Rachel McAdams and Abby Ryder Fortson in Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

Judy Blume’s 1970 novel finally gets a screen adaptation—and it perfectly encapsulates both its time and the challenges of pre-teen life that Blume so eloquently captured in some of her best works.

Blume’s books were the gateway to more adult reading for the likes of me and many of my classmates back in the day. We went from reading comic books, Highlights magazine and The Dog Next Door, to Blume classics like Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Blubber and, of course, Margaret, a gem of a novel that still resonates today.

The picture-perfect cast features an amazing Abby Ryder Fortson as the title character, Rachel McAdams as an all-time-great movie mom, and Kathy Bates as the scene-stealing grandmother. The movie really is the best of Blume come to life.

The book’s themes of religious choice, frank discussions on sex and menstruation, and other young adult tribulations have resulted in its being banned or outlawed in many households for five decades. That’s probably because it beat too many slogging parents to the punch when it came to informing their children about puberty, sexual awareness and their changing bodies.

Fortson wonderfully represents all of the confusion, the underrated intelligence, and the understandable awkwardness of a pre-teen just starting to figure things out. McAdams is sweetly hilarious as her loving mother, especially when she throws in little afterthoughts to counter her daughter’s logic. (She knows her daughter will get blisters if she doesn’t wear socks, but she lets her daughter make her own decisions.)

Bates is the grandma we all wanted to hang out with when we were kids to, well, get away from other kids for a while.

For more than a half-century, copies of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret have been hiding under beds with the other forbidden literature—and with its content far from movie screens. At long last, it’s been turned into a movie that families can take in together before having one helluva conversation, a necessary one, on the way home from the theater.

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  1. I can remember: “We must, we must, we must develop our bust. For fear, for fear, we won’t fill out our brassiere.” Think it might have been in p. e. class (?)

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