‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret’ Arrives7 min read
If you ask any kids who grew up reading Judy Blume, they’ll tell you precisely what they learned from each of Blume’s books; which taboo rites of passage each book introduced; probably even where they were, physically and developmentally, when they first stumbled on this information. They might very well remember the precise page number of the paperback that was passed around middle school on which the most eye-opening passages appeared.
I recently reread her classic, “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” in advance of seeing the film adaptation that opens this week, 52 years after the book’s publication.
In my memory, “Margaret” was chiefly about puberty, specifically about getting your period for the first time. I vividly remembered the famous scenes when Margaret first encounters sanitary napkins and when she and her friends do exercises in order to “get out of those baby bras,” chanting, “We must — we must — we must increase our bust!”
As I reread the book, though, I was struck not only by its Big Moments, but also by the many small, almost trivial ones that I’d unwittingly assimilated into my understanding of the world.
There’s an early scene in which Margaret’s father injures himself while mowing the lawn and Margaret runs out into the yard “to look for the limb,” in case the doctor might be able to sew it back on.
I stopped short. This scene was as real to me as one of my own memories. When I’d read the book as an adolescent, it was the first time I’d heard about such a grisly surgical procedure. I didn’t actively think of it again, but “you should always look for the limb” became part of my smart aleck’s understanding of the world, a bit of wisdom, never questioned. I never tied this knowledge back to the book or any source.
“Margaret” also instilled in me the belief that wearing loafers with socks makes one “look like a baby” and that it was possible to get a custom label made for a homemade sweater that said “Made Expressly for You … by Grandma.” Small details, certainly not the main themes of the book, not what I’d tell any adult at the time that I “took away” from reading it.
“Margaret” the movie — which you should see if you loved the book, or loved the director Kelly Fremon Craig’s first film, “Edge of Seventeen” — is full of these details, moments that change a young reader quietly. Watching it, I felt little electrical connections being made between my childhood brain and my adult brain, between the data that was inputted decades ago and the coherent knowledge it’s become.
Blume, Fremon Craig and the film’s stars discussed the novel’s cultural impact.
“Somebody used to say to me, ‘Just wait till all these kids who grew up with you get to those positions of power in Hollywood — you will see.’” Blume on how the “Margaret” film finally came to be.
“To us, Margaret Simon wasn’t a character, she was a proxy — for the girl who stuffed socks in her bra, who felt uncomfortable in her own skin; for the girl who was homesick for a friend who had matured overnight or moved away or turned mean; for the girl who struggled to make sense of the diagrams on the origami-folded instructions inside the tampon box.” The Times’s Elisabeth Egan on the book’s enduring appeal.
From April 2020, Cheryl Strayed’s podcast interview with Blume.
THE WEEK IN CULTURE
Cool and charismatic, Harry Belafonte, who died this week at 96, channeled his stardom into activism. (Watch some of his greatest screen performances.)
Jerry Springer, who died this week at 79, was a talk show populist who threw the studio doors open, and all hell broke through.
Ed Sheeran testified in court, defending his song “Thinking Out Loud” against an accusation that he copied it from Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.”
What qualifies as stealing a song? Hear examples from other famous music trials involving George Harrison, Led Zeppelin and Katy Perry.
“He was always looking ahead to the next thing”: Anna Wintour remembers the Karl Lagerfeld designs she wore. The Met Gala will honor his work on Monday. (See his defining looks.)
Karin Hindsbo, a Danish-born museum executive, will lead the Tate Modern in London, one of the world’s most popular museums.
The BBC’s chairman resigned over his role in a loan for former Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, deepening the turmoil at the broadcaster.
Carrie Bradshaw is back for a new season of “And Just Like That …” The show released its trailer for Season 2.
Celebrities came out for Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World gala. See their outfits.
A scramble to finish scripts and late-night shows’ contingency plans: Hollywood is bracing for a writers’ strike.
Is Tom Ford saying farewell to fashion?
Imane Anys, known online as Pokimane, is a star in the world of video games. That puts her on the front lines of the internet’s culture wars.
Who wore it best at Coachella? The Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman has thoughts.
King Charles III’s coronation is next weekend. The Times’s Styles desk has answers to all — yes, all — of your questions.
THE LATEST NEWS
North Carolina’s Supreme Court, with a newly elected Republican majority, reversed its own 2022 ruling about voting district maps.
U.S. wage growth remained strong in early 2023 — good news for workers, but a concern for policymakers trying to tamp down inflation.
The Federal Reserve acknowledged its own failure to address the risks at Silicon Valley Bank that led to its collapse.
The Russian military bombed towns and cities across Ukraine, killing at least 25 people in the deadliest attacks in months.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said he had “a pretty good idea who is responsible” for leaking a draft of his opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.
Montana’s Republican governor signed a bill into law to restrict transition care for transgender minors.
By Gilbert Cruz
📚 “Trust” (Tuesday): In this novel by Hernan Diaz, now available in paperback, the life of an early 20th-century New York financier is told from four different perspectives. Named one of The Times’s 10 best books of 2022, we called “Trust” an “exhilarating pursuit.”
🍿 “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” (Friday): One of the few directors to hop back and forth between the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe, James Gunn is taking one more swing with Star Lord and Co. before taking on yet another Superman reboot. Expect jokes, classic rock tunes and light profanity.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
By Melissa Clark
Whether you’re planning a festive spring gathering or looking to make yourself something extra special for dinner this weekend, Anna Francese Gass’s delightful artichoke carbonara might be just the thing. In her clever recipe, she levels up an easy weeknight pasta by stirring in canned or frozen artichoke quarters, adding flavor and texture without much effort. For a vegetarian version, skip the pancetta and caramelize some onions or mushrooms in the pan instead. Then top each bowl with a raw egg yolk for the silkiest carbonara sauce imaginable.
How to grow dahlias: Plant them soon, and other tips.
What you get for $450,000: A townhouse in Atlanta; a 19th-century home in Frederick, Md.; or a Craftsman bungalow in Spokane, Wash.
The hunt: Two Americans wanted a condo in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Which one did they buy? Play our game.
Statement décor: How to design your entryway (even if it’s small).
Tipping: Gratuities have become confusing. Here’s advice on how to give.
Art and design: Local museums are diversifying their exhibitions.
Mittelschmerz: Find out more about the mysteries of ovulation pain.
What’s going on with Covid? Hospitalizations and deaths are lower.
ADVICE FROM WIRECUTTER
Make your cold brew
Unless you’re a year-round iced coffee hound, you may be making the annual transition from hot drip to cold brew. At the coffee shop, that can be a splurge, but at home, switching to cold brew might actually save you money. A good cold brew maker, like Wirecutter’s pick from OXO, can smooth out the rough edges of inexpensive, mediocre beans, producing a sweet, mellow concentrate that will last all week. I even like to brew the same grounds twice — coffee pros might disapprove, but the results are great, especially with a splash of milk. — Marguerite Preston
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers, N.H.L. playoffs: These two teams are so close that you could probably see one arena from the roof of the other without the skyscrapers in the way. Maybe that’s why they have each looked so comfortable in away games: The Rangers started the series with two blowout wins in Newark, and then the Devils won two games in Manhattan. The Devils now lead the series, 3-2, and can advance with a win tonight. Good news for them: The game is in New York. 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC.
More N.H.L. news
The Islanders — New York’s other team — were eliminated last night by the Carolina Hurricanes. The Dallas Stars knocked off the Minnesota Wild.
The Boston Bruins’ historic season is in trouble: After a loss last night, they are headed to Game 7 against the Florida Panthers.
NOW TIME TO PLAY
The pangram from yesterday’s Spelling Bee was excitement. Here is today’s puzzle.
What were the hardest and easiest 10 words from the past week of Spelling Bees? See our lists here.
Take the news quiz to see how well you followed this week’s headlines.
And here are today’s Mini Crossword, Wordle, Sudoku and Tiles.
Thanks for spending part of your weekend with The Times. — Melissa
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