Blume, Judy. (1986). Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. New York, NY: Yearling. ISBN 9781439521472.
Tweenager Margaret Simon is moving from the bustling haven of diversity in New York City to suburban New Jersey with her family. There she faces new challenges as she struggles to find her place in a seemingly homogenous community. Margaret’s family is divided religiously, but she hopes to establish a relationship with her god all while trying to balance sixth grade, boys, and puberty.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is an example of a first person narrative done right. If this novel were written any other way so much of the story would’ve been lost for the reader. Margaret is a sixth grade girl, so like many YA novels, school is a backdrop setting since the majority of kid’s day-to-day life is spent in school. This book is generally marketed toward upper elementary and lower secondary students because of Margaret’s age and grade.
I thought this book was fantastic. When weighing its strengths and weaknesses, the good definitely came out ahead. For starters, the characterization in this book is excellent. Since it is written in first person, the text describes Margaret’s inner thoughts and feelings through her personal communication with god. Margaret is a dynamic character. This is her coming of age story and she changes through the book and finds her way. Many young readers will identify with Margaret and may develop a “you are there” feeling — a personal connection to her as they read.
Since YA novels are typically fairly short, there are few main characters. In this book I would say that Margaret and perhaps Nancy are really the only protagonists. However, it could even be argued that Nancy is more of an antagonist. (Am I the only one who didn’t like her?)
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is very formulaic. The story, in my opinion, is too predictable. Nearly everything that happened you could see coming from a mile away. Maybe the target audience wouldn’t have seen all of it coming, but when I read this it seemed all of the events were pretty obvious. I also didn’t like that nearly everyone was a static or stock character. With the exception of Margaret and Nancy, you don’t really know anything about anyone else. However, you can’t have in-depth character development of everyone if you want to keep it relatively short fast-paced. Still, I wanted more.