Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret

Judy Blume’s YA novel called Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret is of one of the most challenged and banned books in America.

Ever since its publication in 1970, incensed parents, clueless politicians, and bureaucratic administrators have been trying to get it removed from reading lists due to its frank examination of puberty and menstruation. Not violence or social toxicity, mind you. Rather, puberty and menstruation! It didn’t help that the book also depicted a young girl who is given freedom to decide for herself what religion she would like to practice. The horror!

"a heaven-sent treat that challenges us to think and wonder why it took us so long to become comfortable with taking on such important source material"

Finally, after 53 years, Blume’s iconic novel gets the big screen adaptation it deserves. Written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig (The Edge of Seventeen), Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret is a wonderfully nostalgic coming-of-age story that follows a young girl named Margaret Simon, played by Abby Ryder Fortson (Ant-Man and the Wasp), who is navigating the myriad challenges of growing up.

As the film opens, we join Margaret and her family as they are moving to New Jersey from the City, where she must start sixth grade at a new school. Every pre-teen’s nightmare, right?

Her parents Barbara and Herb (Rachel McAdams and Bennie Safde) have differing religious beliefs, with her father being Jewish and her mother a Christian. Throughout the film, we watch Margaret, who has not been raised in any particular religion, grapple with her own spiritual identity, often turning to a higher power for guidance.

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret touches upon the heavy themes of religion, puberty, and friendship, as it explores the complexities of adolescence in a very engaging and relatable way. Margaret’s journey is one of self-discovery, and as she muddles her way through the changes and challenges of puberty, she is met with a series of obstacles that threaten to shake her sense of self.

The film’s standout performance – among many – comes from Fortson, who was incidentally named one of Hollywood Reporter’s “Top 30 Stars Under 18.” Her Margaret is authentic, vulnerable, and perfectly awkward as she captures the essence of what it means to be a young girl on the cusp of adulthood. We empathize with her as she confronts, head on, the struggles of growing up.

Rachel McAdams holds her own in a compelling performance as Margaret’s mother, Barbara. McAdams’ portrayal of a mother searching for her own identity and trying to raise her daughter to have a sense of self is genuine and heartfelt. Her scenes with Fortson are some of the film's most emotional and poignant moments, as they showcase the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship.Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret

Craig does a remarkable job of addressing sensitive topics like puberty, menstruation, and religion in a manner that is informative, empathetic, and even laugh-out-loud funny at times. In one scene, Margaret and her friends discuss their first periods, with each girl sharing their own experiences. The scene is handled with the utmost sensitivity and respect, while also successfully normalizing a topic that is often considered taboo.

Another notable aspect of the film is Craig’s attention to detail. Her setting and costumes capture the essence of the period, taking us back to late ‘60s New York suburbia. In addition, Hans Zimmer’s score provides the film’s heartbeat, while the perfectly curated soundtrack, which includes George Harrison’s “What is Life” adds to the film's nostalgic feel.

However, despite the film's strong performances and attention to detail, it occasionally suffers from some awkward pacing and a meandering plot, with some scenes lacking purpose or resolution. In addition, the film’s ending, while certainly satisfying, feels abrupt, with some loose ends left dangling.

Those are small gripes though, as Are you there God? It’s Me, Margaret is an honest and authentic portrayal of the struggles of adolescence; a heaven-sent treat that challenges us to think and wonder why it took us so long to become comfortable with taking on such important source material.

4/5 stars

Film Details

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material involving sexual education and some suggestive material.
105 mins
: Kelly Fremon Craig
Kelly Fremon Craig
Abby Ryder Fortson; Rachel McAdams; Kathy Bates
: Comedy | Romance

Memorable Movie Quote: "We must, we must, we must increase our bust!"
Theatrical Distributor:
Official Site:
Release Date:
April 28, 2023
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: When her family moves from the city to the suburbs, 11-year-old Margaret navigates new friends, feelings, and the beginning of adolescence.


Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret