School Library Journal's Top 100 Children's Novels #74
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction (though due to themes, I would recommend this for older MGers-12 and up), Realistic Fiction
The Recipe: (From GoodReads) Margaret Simon, almost twelve, has just moved from New York City to the suburbs, and she's anxious to fit in with her new friends. When she's asked to join a secret club she jumps at the chance. But when the girls start talking about boys, bras, and getting their first periods, Margaret starts to wonder if she's normal. There are some things about growing up that are hard for her to talk about, even with her friends. Lucky for Margaret, she's got someone else to confide in... someone who always listens.
The Frosting and Sprinkles: This was my first time reading this classic coming-of-age book, so I had no nostalgia for it. It was cringe-worthy...not because it is a poorly written book, but because Blume nails the Middle School girl so well that is was a little too close to home, reminding me of my painful Middle School days. Blah.
But, despite of and because of that, it made a good and amusing read. If you are irritated by middle school girls, it will also leave you irritated. Like I said, Blume nails it and that is why so many middle schoolers find solace in this narrative.
Blume presents interesting questions about God and the human search for Him in the form of a middle school girl trying to figure out whether she's Jewish like her mother or Protestant like her father. Margaret's God is a personal one who is there for everything-even her first period. It's kind of awkward and self-centered, but appropriate for Margaret's character. She is, after all a 12-year old and most 12-year olds think everything revolves around them. At the same time, Margaret has an admirable, simple faith that God is always there and cares about the things that affect her most.
Overall, Are You There God... is a fun and painfully amusing read, but not a favorite of mine.
The Hair That Fell Into the Batter: None, really. I personally didn't find the plot completely interesting, but it is well-written.
Points For Discussion: A big theme in this novel is that God can be personal and does not have to be found in an institution, like church or synagogue. I am sure this was shocking and ground-breaking in 1970 when this book was first published, but now this big question will be lost on many Middle Schoolers as not attending a place of worship is more common than not. If you are a person of faith and your child reads this book, it is an excellent opportunity to discuss faith, practice, and public worship and how that affects our view of God.
3 Out of 5 Cupcakes!
(I liked it)
(I liked it)