Judy Blume classic “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret” is finally going to be a movie
It’s time to play one of our favorite little games: Will Hollywood Ruin Our Childhood Again?
This time, the memory in question is that of the beloved Gen X literary classic “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” Judy Blume’s pubescent classic responsible for the existential crises of at least three generations. (And, to this day, a high-ranking candidate for banned book lists.)
The YA fave is getting the big screen treatment soon, with Abby Ryder Fortson as Margaret, Rachel McAdams as her mom, and Kathy Bates as Sylvia, Margaret’s sassy Jewish grandmother.
A strong cast, to be sure, but how will many of the plot details believably translate to the modern day?
Can Gen Z relate to the adolescent angst of Gen X?
The theme of the novel deals with a search for identity, as Margaret struggles to decide what, if any, religion she wishes to devote herself to, as well as her changing pubescent body and where she fits in at her new school.
Those can be timeless themes if handled deftly, but the devil is in the details.
Margaret’s parents are in what was in 1970 described as a mixed marriage: not one of different races, but different religions. Her father is Jewish, and her mother is from a Christian family.
The marriage caused her maternal grandparents to disown her mom and have little to no relationship with Margaret herself. Today, over 50 years later, religious differences in marriage are far more common and less likely to raise eyebrows, let alone cause a huge family rift.
While pre-teen girls face unprecedented pressure to look like Instagram influencers, today’s kids are far too savvy to believe a crazy exercise would increase their breast size — not when social media is full of plastic surgery before-and-afters.
And when Margaret finally gets her period, her giant maxi pad that is held up by a suspender belt is an unrecognizable artifact to pretty much all of Gen X, let alone Gen Z. (Though we hear it on good authority that this particular detail, at least, has been updated in more recent editions of the novel.)
The more things change…
Of course, certain qualities of the book are timeless: Margaret’s search for identity, the cliquey nature of school girls, the dangers of gossip and how people may lie to seem like something bigger than they are.
Also, the tug between childhood and adulthood is much the same today as it was 50 years ago, as are the lessons she learns throughout this single school year from her family and newfound friends.
If anything, today’s social media landscape can make learning these lessons even more fraught with anxiety.
It’s no wonder this Judy Blume classic was named one of the best YA novels of all time as recently as 2021.
When will “Are You There God?”be in theaters?
Phew – it’s been a long time coming! Judy Blume finally agreed to sell the screen rights to “Are You There, God?” all the way back in 2018 — nearly 50 years after its original publication. She’s one of the producers of the film, so fans of the book may take some comfort in that info.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is due for release on September 16, 2022, so you have plenty of time to read it again and share it with the tween in your life.
And if you’re so inclined, share what your Gen Zer thought about Margaret’s rite of passage!