Just as I was not-a-Martha (at ALA Midwinter 2018), neither was I a Margaret growing up. No gentile mother, no rhinestone-wearing grandma*, and no increasing of bust, please and thank you very much. But like so many Gen Xers, I was (and am) a huge Judy Blume fan. And to echo all of the glowing reviews of the new Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret movie, it really, really gets her.

Director Kelly Fremon Craig is a mega-ultra-superfan and it shows in her attention to detail and effortless-seeming narrative decisions. Abby Ryder Fortson, who played Margaret, was absolutely adorable without being cutesy, not even while stuffing her Grow-Bra and dancing around on her bed. Her facial expressions were natural (that punim!) and her reactions made sense. Kathy Bates as Grandma Sylvia did not join her outfits in going over the top, and Rachel McAdams and Benny Safdie (director of Uncut Gems [!)]) were believable as Margaret’s imperfect and very loving parents. Plus, La Judy herself had a cameo. And Moose Freed’s curly hair!

So much of the anticipation, hype, and experience of this movie has been communal (watch it with your friends! re-live your childhood! bring the kids!). Very oddly, I saw the movie in a completely empty theater by myself (see photo; note empty theater). First show, unintentional private screening. No matter. In Judy Blume’s world, full of truth and empathy, you can experience the anything-and-everything of growing up on your own time, through your own lens, and with your own self. Again: I was never a Margaret, but I also knew I didn’t have to be.

*Though true story: my grandma did give me a copy of Forever among a set of Judy books. But not because she was hip-and-with-it like Grandma Sylvia; she just must not have read the flap copy.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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