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Judy Blume’s “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” Shines on the Silver Screen

by Emily Rems

It has taken 52 years for Judy Blume’s beloved middle-grade novel, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, to finally make it to the big screen, and writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig’s heartfelt adaptation is well worth the wait.

A coming-of-age story centering on the titular Margaret’s struggles to adapt both to sixth grade in a new school and to life inside her rapidly changing body, the film relies on wonderful little moments—first kisses, first bras, first periods—rather than on a traditional dramatic arc to deliver its slice of pubescent life.

By retaining the novel’s original time and place—New Jersey circa 1970—Craig’s script deftly highlights the ways in which so many quintessential girlhood rites of passage have been altered or possibly even erased by the advent of the Internet, social media, and cell phones.

A formidable supporting cast anchors this blast from the past, with Rachel McAdams delivering a warm, Gilmore Girls-style performance as Margaret’s artsy mom, and Kathy Bates channeling her inner yenta as the hilariously outspoken Jewish grandma.

But of course, the film would be nothing without a riveting Margaret, and Abby Ryder Fortson—who was only 13 when filming began and was previously best known for playing Paul Rudd’s daughter in Ant-Man—knocks this iconic role out of the park.

Her big, expressive eyes and pensive body language poignantly telegraph so much of Margaret’s inner world to the audience that it’s impossible not to root for her as she tiptoes her way, awkwardly yet beautifully, toward adulthood.

Top photo: Rachel McAdams and Abby Ryder Fortson. Photo by: Dana Hawley 

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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