When I was eleven, my older sister handed me a book and said, “This will explain everything.” The book was Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. My sister, who was right about many things, was right about this novel, too. But she had no idea that she was handing me much more than a beloved novel—she was handing me my future.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is the story of eleven-year-old Margaret Simon, half-Jewish, half-Christian, who’s recently moved to the suburbs and is about to start sixth grade. Everything has changed—and is changing, including her thoughts. Margaret is full of questions about her family and the tension between her parents and grandmother over religion, her body and when her period will come, the new friends she’s making and their effect on her, school and special assignments that get her thinking, and religion—a biggie with Margaret who doesn’t have a religious affiliation and wants one. When I was eleven, I was full of these questions too—about moving from the city to the suburbs. About my new stepfather. About where my father and maternal grandparents disappeared to. About where God was in all this. About my odd new thoughts about a cute boy in my class. If I’d find a best friend. If my flat chest would ever fill my training bra. Margaret made me understand that it was okay to worry, to wonder, to be afraid to ask. Margaret made me understand that it was okay to feel.
But Judy Blume, my first idol, the hero of my pre-teen years, made me understand that I didn’t have to pretend with myself. That what I thought, felt, believed, even if I didn’t fully understand it, was okay. And that I could put voice to all these thoughts and feelings on paper. A voice that was mine, just like Margaret’s voice was so strongly hers. Because of Margaret, I began to write a secret journal called Are You There, God? It’s Me, M. That journal led to stories, to first-place prizes in our class’s creative writing competitions. To a life-long love of reading and writing.
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, the original first edition that my sister gave me, is right there on my keeper shelf, where it’s been since I was eleven and where it will always stay—my literary first love.
Mia’s novel, THE MERYL STREEP MOVIE CLUB, is this month’s book club selection. And we’d love to give a copy away to one of you today! Just leave a comment on this post and we’ll toss your name in the hat.
In the bestselling tradition of The Friday Night Knitting Club and The Jane Austen Book Club, three women find unexpected answers, happiness, and their way back to one another, with Meryl Streep movies as their inspiration.
Two sisters and the cousin they grew up with after a tragedy are summoned home to their family matriarch’s inn on the coast of Maine for a shocking announcement. Suddenly, Isabel, June, and Kat are sharing the attic bedroom—and barely speaking. But when innkeeper Lolly asks them to join her and the guests in the parlor for weekly Movie Night—it’s Meryl Streep month—they find themselves sharing secrets, talking long into the night—and questioning everything they thought they knew about life, love, and one another.
Each woman sees her complicated life reflected through the magic of cinema: Isabel’s husband is having an affair, and an old pact may keep her from what she wants most . . . June has promised her seven-year-old son that she will somehow find his father, who he’s never met . . . and Kat is ambivalent about accepting her lifelong best friend’s marriage proposal. Through everything, Lolly has always been there for them, and now Isabel, June, Kat—and Meryl—must be there for her. Finding themselves. Finding each other. Finding a happy ending.
About Ariel Lawhon
Ariel Lawhon is the co-founder of She Reads, novelist, blogger, storyteller, and life-long reader. She lives in Texas with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.