Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret
Judy Blume
1970

Kids books were never the same after Judy Blume. Blubber, Deenie, Then Again Maybe I Won’t – books for kids and teenagers that were about something more than adventure or moralizing. These were kids who were scared and confused and absolutely perfectly normal, kids who hurt each other and felt hurt, kids who masturbated and fantasized, kids who wouldn’t think about talking to their parents about what was really happening in their lives and in their bodies. These were kids exactly like me and exactly like every one in my class, and these were books that brought a new level of honesty, education and emotional support to the generation of kids born in the wake of the feminist revolution and each generation since. I could write at length about each and every book and what I felt in its pages. Better, though, to just watch and listen to this, from Amanda Palmer:

Her books were attacked and banned, and fights over access to her work still rage in many a school library. But it is a pretty safe bet to say that no other author had such a profound influence on kids in the second half of the twentieth century. We didn’t just read Judy Blume. We grew up with her, nurtured by her, confessing to her, emboldened by her. It is indeed like the song above – Judy Blume profoundly influenced every single kid who read those books. So deeply and so personally that mostly we don’t even recognize it.

Margaret in Are You There, God?… is a 12 year old girl growing up in a non-religous home with parents of both Christian and Jewish heritage. She struggles with questions of faith while working through all the transitions of pre-adolescence – buying her first bra, noticing boys and wanting to be noticed, identity and group-think in early teen culture, and her first period. But that’s all just the stuff that happens. And Blume’s books aren’t about stuff that happens. They are about kids who feel and kids who question and kids who worry and kids who fear and kids who triumph and kids who fail. You’ve read them, so you know. But go now and read them again. And then take a few minutes and think about Judy Blume, and thank her.

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