As I begin to write down my thoughts about this book, I realize that for such a short story as this, there are many points worth discussing. The title itself is interesting, for one. It sounds very personal and intimate, and loaded with different interpretations. I read this book while proctoring an exam (of course, I still glance up and watch the examinees from time to time) and for a very short book, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret has made me pause for a while and think about myself when I was 12 years old.
Margaret, the main character, is almost 12 years old when her family leaves the big city of New York and moved to the suburbs. Adjusting seems difficult at first but Margaret has found a friend in Nancy, her perky neighbor, and soon Margaret finds herself facing growing up issues such as joining a secret club, keeping a secret crush, shopping for bras, and looking forward to having a menstruation. She longs to have someone to talk to especially about her secrets and she starts to talk to God. But is God really there?
I remember facing the same issues she has while I was 12. I was one of the so-called late bloomers, one of the last in class to wear a bra and to have my period, and I was always one of those at the beginning of the line during flag ceremony because I was short. I felt so left out and alone but I coped with getting good grades and being active in extra-curricular activities. But still, during that time, I longed to fit in and be one of the more popular pupils who looked better and more beautiful than me, especially the ones who were already wearing bras. In hindsight, the issues I had then were so petty compared to what I have to confront now that I’m already 30. Many times, while reading this book, I wished I were 12 again.
I find it so easy to get into Margaret’s character. I feel for her insecurities and her “petty” issues. I understand the longing to belong and to be accepted. She wants to have a religion just like her friends rather than being content with having no religion at the moment. Since I grew up in a Christian home where Sunday school and family devotionals are tradition, it wasn’t difficult for me to grasp the concept of God and religion. But it was only in college that I was able to finally affirm my faith and to really establish a relationship with God. I love the childlike intimacy of Margaret’s prayers to God and I am reminded that it is not important to be too wordy and profound when talking to God. What is important is my honesty and sincerity – my earnestness to really look for Him and listen to Him.
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret is not just a book for young adults. Grown up people can also learn much from it such as I had and I strongly recommend this to parents who have growing up children.
21/50 2012 Goodreads Reading Goal.