Why ‘Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret’ Still Matters

I arrived at the Crosby Street Hotel and said, ‘God, are you there? Is that me, Margaret?’ I heard crowds before I saw it.

The hipster SoHo hangout was filled with laughter, chatter, selfie snaps and champagne-sipping fans of novels that sparked 1,000 boob exercises and candid conversations about puberty. Copies of Bloom’s books were piled high on one table, and personal diaries were on another. I said I’m Elizabeth. “

Unfortunately, I stopped reading the invitation to “Spend an afternoon with Judy Blume.” What more did I need to know? Alas, this get-together didn’t turn out to be the intimacy I envisioned.Bloom and I sat in an empty theater and bonded over a box of milkdad. event. We are increasing our dedication one step at a time. Words like “obsessed” and “adored” were italicized and heavy, hovering over the room.

“You don’t understand,” said the stranger. “I morning Margaret. “

Of course I understand. I was also Margaret. So did my friends, and maybe yours too.

It would be hard to overstate how important this book is. That’s me, Margaret” is a Generation X girl, especially in the subset (fictional) suburbs north of New Jersey where I grew up, with a few outlets.

We were girls who loved puffy stickers, fruit roll-ups, jelly shoes, Madonna bracelets and cabbage patch kids. We were told we were equal, but “boys will be boys” was a perfectly acceptable response to unfriendly behavior. There was no Google. As luck would have it, there was a call waiting. If you were really lucky, there was a rotary phone with a cord that stretched all the way to the bedroom. The movies played in the theater, the music on the radio, and the news delivered to his front door with a thump once a day. The book was made of paper.

Into this siled world, Judy Bloom marched, breaking news of other tweens (the term hadn’t been coined yet). “God, are you there? Me, Margaret?” was her Clarion call.

For us Margaret Simon was not a character. For a girl who was homesick for her friends who had either matured overnight or gone away or turned mean. For the little girl who had a hard time understanding the origami instruction diagram she found inside the tampon box.

We watched The Movie in health class and giggled when the red-faced instructor came out to smoke. There was The Book with old fashioned fake cheer. Swell! “ Maybe our parents gave us The Talk. In the best case scenario, they leaned toward ‘uterus’, ‘ovaries’ and ‘fallopian tubes’ and skipped ‘sperm’ altogether. By the way, there is a pad under the washbasin.

But we still had so many questions. Margaret asked these questions, and Bloom answered them with candor and respect.

Before the lights dimmed, she spoke with Crosby.The real-life Judy Bloom, now 85, was warm and self-deprecating, but clearly no stranger to the roar of applause that accompanied her on the podium. The reason why, in its 52nd year of existence, “God, are you there? That’s me, Margaret” was ready for the film. She said it was the most personal book written for her daughter, who is now in her early 60s. She thanked her childhood friend for being there. The fact that they were there says something about Judy Bloom.

I’ll admit, I showed up at the screening ready to say some nitpicking. What if the movie sucks? What if it failed to capture the essence of Margaret or the Garden State, a freewheeling but rule-bound era? Worse, the idea itself made me sick. What if a movie overshadows a book?

By the time the Simon family moved from Manhattan to Morningbird Lane, I was crouching. By the time Margaret was in her sixth grade (not wearing her socks as directed by her bossy neighbor), I was shrugging off the mantle of quality control.

Here’s what you need to know about the movie hitting theaters on April 28th. Stay true to the book. It captures the vulnerability, curiosity, occasional cruelty, and unfinished potential of someone on the brink of adolescence. I am her 11 and now the mother of her three 11-year-olds still gives me a fresh look at this complicated and dazzling era.

Along the way, a vivid memory emerged, like the photograph in front of me. I was in her fifth grade, in her bedroom, recovering from a broken pelvis she received when she was hit by a car on the way home from school. The pain is so exquisite, I’ve never experienced anything like it yet…and elbows.

Desperate for some distraction, all I could do was lie still and pick up a novel from the nightstand. You can guess what it was.

How Margaret landed in my room that day is a mystery. You may have borrowed the book from her friends or borrowed it from the library. It may have been left by her sister, or it may have been left by her grandmother who ran out into the city while she was in the hospital. My parents are unlikely to be the culprits. Understandably, they were distracted. Plus, my mom put Judy Bloom in the same category as Barbie dolls. graphicnot for us.

It’s me, Margaret,” was one of the first books I read in a day, inhaling it as the light on my bedspread changed.

In the late afternoon, the school principal came to see me. I didn’t know Mrs. Murray very well—I wasn’t a troublemaker, nor was she talented—but she perched on the edge of my bed and turned my room into her stimulus. It was filled with perfume. As the thought “I need to get a bigger bust” crossed her mind, she noticed that her blouse was very see-through, and that the hook and eye closure at the back of her bra were see-through countless times. I couldn’t help it.

While answering Mrs. Murray’s question — did you get a card from the class? did you need anything from my cubby? — I tried to ignore the parallel questions running through my head: Did she think my “peanut” sheets were childish? did you feel sick from your injury? Most pressing, will Mrs. Murray notice the title of the paperback I tried to hide under her palm?

I didn’t want the principal to know I was reading about periods and breasts. What if she told my teacher What if he thinks I’m a pervert? I’d like to think her 11-year-old wouldn’t suffer so much humiliation today, but the ’80s were a different time.

After the three of us brainstormed a crutch-friendly Halloween costume after she sipped the tea my mom delivered, Mrs. Murray walked away with a pocketbook over one shoulder. But first, she dabbed her burgundy nails on the cover of “God, Are You There?” It’s me, Margaret,” he said, gently placing her finger on Margaret’s face.

“It’s very good,” she said. “fun.”

There were no brass bands, no lightning strikes. The earth did not move under my feet. There was a spark of recognition: fellow readers, comrade spirit. That was it. #mymargaretmoment.

Books have an intimacy you don’t get from movies or TV shows. No matter how true that is – even if he’s in 3-D, it’s the highest definition. You can’t hold a movie with both hands. You can’t smell it, put your initials on it, or underline your favorite part. You can’t read the names of other people who have checked it out of the library… Fellow detectives in the footsteps of life. You can’t pass it on to your own children.

You can watch movies. Your favorite book may open your favorite page. A book will find you when you need it most, showing you what you want to know at a precise pace that allows you to absorb the words. I’m here.

As the credits rolled and the theater lit up, I wasn’t the only one with tears in my hands clutching wet tissues. And of course, Judy Bloom thanked all the guests at the theater door, and it would have been the highlight of my adult life if I had met her two hours earlier. Now she was a much admired obstacle to navigate before I called her sister to cry for her and then catch the train home to New Jersey.

I had a lot to say. You have taught me that all pain can be taken away by honesty: worry, embarrassment, loneliness, fear, and even the bewilderment of the human body. You taught me that there is nothing that cannot be put into words. Margaret always has a place on my shelf. Curious, no pressure, but have you ever considered a sequel about menopause? Did Margaret suffer from insomnia? was it good?

But when it was my turn to say goodbye to Judy Bloom, I could only say two words: “Thank you.”

Her response echoed the message we found in her book, the flag she put up at the doorstep of adolescence. It still ripples today. She looked me in the eye and just said, “You’re welcome.”

audio produce Tully Abekasis.

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