How Judy Blume’s “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret” Became a Bold Feminist Statement

How Judy Blume’s “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret” Became a Bold Feminist Statement


Oct 19, 2018

We know you're there, God, because you finally answered the prayers of millions.

Judy Blume has sold the rights to adapt her seminal coming-of-age novel "Are You There God? It's Me Margaret" into a movie. The film will be written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, who made her directorial debut in 2016 with the Hailee Steinfeld film "The Edge of Seventeen."

"Thrilled is an understatement," Fremon Craig posted on Twitter about the news.

Many women can relate. The novel—which centers around a young girl who looks to God to help her navigate the tricky paths of puberty—has been a literary touchstone for young girls since it hit shelves in 1970. And it resonated because it was inspired by a real girl: Blume, herself.

"So much of me is in Margaret. She was a late developer, and I talked to God the way Margaret does, as a confidante. 'Please make me grow, please let me get my period.' She is desperate to be normal," Blume tells MAKERS. "My first letters came from girls who were really sharing things from deep inside. Things that they were thinking about. Things that they were going through. Everything."

Portraying an unvarnished look at adolescence has been a hallmark in Blume's work. But while she found success with children's books like "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" and "Blubber," Blume faced backlash early on in her career when she candidly discussed teenage sexuality with books like "Margaret" and "Forever."

"I got so many angry letters from women saying how dare you let [Katherine in "Forever"] have an orgasm. I've been married for 30 years and I've never had one," Blume said. "And I'm like, well, I always did so I just didn't think it was a big deal!"

Others felt differently. Pamphlets and campaigns for schools and libraries to ban Blume's books began to pop up across the country because protesters "believed puberty was a dirty word," recalls Blume. But the N.J.-based author refused to back down because she felt her work served a real purpose. "I wanted to show sexuality with responsibility," she tells MAKERS. "And I wanted girls to have a good time!"

Turns out Blume knew what she was talking about. Generations have found entertainment in Blume's books which have been translated into more than 30 languages and earned more than 900 book awards.

"Don't let anybody discourage you. If you feel it and you need to do it then you have to go out there even though they tell you can't do it."

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