Margaret and I go way back; I’ve known her since the fifth grade. Margaret was cool and worldly—worldly compared to me, at any rate. I was just a Canadian kid in a town with a whopping population of 9,929. Margaret was from New York and her parents didn’t practice any religion. Her Dad was born Jewish and her Mom was born Christian but they said she could pick her own faith when she was older. How cool was that? She also knew all about periods—sorry, menstroo-ation. Thank God. My mother tried to explain it, once. It wasn’t the most effective talk. If Margaret hadn’t taken me under her wing, I would have fainted dead away at the first sight of red. She also helped convince me I wasn’t a total perv for sneaking my mom’s copy of The Art of Michelangelo up to my room to steal peeks at David.
Even though we drifted apart, I still think of her fondly. She was a friend when I needed one. When I saw her name on the American Library Association’s list of the 100 most frequently challenged books between 1990 and 1999, I was crushed. That’s right: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was one of the most challenged titles of the 90’s.
For almost forty years, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret has been changing the lives of pre-teen girls. Judy Blume accomplished a feat that is both awe inspiring and, to the wrong people, terribly frightening. AYTG? supplemented the five minute reproduction talk we got from our parents, taught us that it was okay to grow and change, and hinted that we could make important choices for ourselves—even when it came to something as seemingly unquestionable as religion. If Stephen King’s Carrie had been given a copy at, say, thirteen, that whole traumatic shower scene could have been avoided and she might not have set the gym on fire at prom.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret empowered us, even if we didn’t know it at the time. I was a stronger, more confident girl because of Judy Blume. Because of Margaret.
– Kathleen (who recently re-read Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret only to find all references to belts removed)