We all love Judy Bloom

Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret comes to the big screen

Judy Blume is revered as a pioneer of young adult literature due to her sensitive and honest portrayal of the inner lives of preteen and teen girls. 

Her books were guiding lights in my childhood and it was with excitement and a little trepidation that I heard they were adapting one of my favourites, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret into a movie.  Back in the 1980’s my friend and I formed our own Period club, carefully noting our changing bodies and giggling over diagrams in medical text books in the library. This book helped to normalise all the changes we were feeling and share our mixed emotions about growing up.

The plot

Set in the 1970s, the story follows preteen Margaret Simon as she navigates a big move, religion, periods, boys, bras, and everything else that comes with growing up.

The key characters are Margaret, (played in the movie by an excellent Abby Ryder Fortson) an 11-year-old Grade 6 girl who’s just moved to a new home and trying to juggle the social dynamics of her new school while questioning her relationship to God. Her mother, who was raised Christian and her father who is Jewish, have decided to let her choose her religion when she is older.  As a class project, her teacher encourages her to explore why she dislikes religious holidays, leading her to attend different religious services to decide who she is.  She also talks to God, pleading for guidance. It’s all handled with a light, non-prescriptive touch, allowing the topic to be explored without taking a particular stance.

Her mother Barbara (played by the lovely Rachel McAdams) is a former art teacher now stay-at-home mom.  She’s roped into various school committees while battling to settle into her new suburban life.  Choosing the style of their new couch becomes a metaphor for trying to find out who she is now.

Margaret’s loving and slightly overbearing Jewish grandmother, Sylvia is played by Kathy Bates, who I can never quite forget as a crazed fan in the movie Misery.  She’s excellent though, and gets their special relationship just right.

The Verdict

The movie is a winner. I watched with my 18 year-old and we both had those Ahhh! moments when pivotal scenes came to life.  The movie does the book proud, but you really do have to read the book – it’s just such a classic and although teens have access to pretty much everything online these days, there’s a charm and vulnerability in wanting to be like the other girls and navigating all the coming of age moments, that is timeless and universal. Give this book to today’s preteens and they’ll still enjoy it.  They might even have a yearning for much simpler times.

You can also watch a new documentary on Judy Blume’s life on Amazon Prime – “Judy Blume Forever.”

For books similar to Judy Blume’s books, try these. 

I love this review by writer Elisabeth Egan in the new York Times.

The Playboy spread moment:


Get in touch

We’d love to hear from you!

Share this on
Social Share Buttons and Icons powered by Ultimatelysocial