And America’s past will seem doubly strange if you’re encountering Judy Blume’s 1970 coming-of-age story for the first time.
After its publication, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret was banned by US school libraries for its shocking revelations.
Apparently, adolescent girls had periods, fretted about their changing bodies and could even question the existence of God.
The long overdue film adaptation is heartwarming, sharply written, wonderfully cast and probably a bit tame for the social media-savvy girls of 2023.
Retaining its 1970s setting, it stars Abby Ryder Fortson as a hugely likeable 11-year-old Margaret, uprooted from New York when her dad Herb (Benny Safdie) gets a job in New Jersey.
Margaret desperately misses her Jewish grandmother Sylvia (Kathy Bates), and her mother Barbara (Rachel McAdams) is struggling to adjust to life as a stay-at-home mum after quitting her teaching career.
Margaret’s new life starts promisingly when she’s recruited into a new friendship group and a girls-only club which revolves around frank chats about boys, bras and sanitary towels.
But the pressures of womanhood weigh heavily on her young shoulders. And more problems arise when her maternal grandparents visit. Devout Christians, they broke contact with Barbara when she married a Jew.
Margaret doesn’t know if she belongs in the temple or the church or if, like her parents, she should give up on the idea of religion altogether.
Weirdly, the only controversy surrounding the film was stoked by the once-fearless Blume who recently rowed back on an expression of support for writer and feminist JK Rowling.
As this touching and refreshingly sensible drama seems to know exactly what a woman is, she probably made that U-turn to avoid a second boycott.
“The more things change, the more they stay the same,” wrote novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr.
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