"It's not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers."
— Judy Blume
— Judy Blume
Still holding on at number 99 on the list of 100 most challenged books of the 21st century, it is hard to imagine why this tame story of a 12-year old girl (Margaret) getting her period for the first time is so threatening. Those who have challenged it have claimed it was "sexually offensive", "amoral", and "anti-Christian." This was my absolute favorite book from about 1975 to 1977. I don't know how many times I read it before it was it was replaced with The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton as my new favorite (although I don't think that one has any libraries).
Are You There God? has one library scene, which was just as I remembered it. Margaret and and her classmate Laura Danker (with the big you-know-whats!) stay after school to do some research in the library. Laura tells Margaret that she can't copy "straight out of the World Book word for word....You're supposed to read it and then write it in your own words. Mr. Benedict will know if you've copied." Of course Laura is absolutely correct. It is uncalled for that Margaret comes back with a nasty accusation about Laura, Moose Freed, and Evan Wheeler and what they allegedly do behind the A&P. Margaret immediately feels awful, and tries to apologize, but Laura will have none of it. Can't say as I blame her. One thing I didn't remember about this part though, is that the librarian has one line in the midst of it all. Can you guess what it is?
"Girls-let's be more quiet." Sigh.
Sightings: Tom Perrotta's satire The Abstinence Teacher includes a passage about book challenges at a middleschool library in which Are You There God? It's Me Margaret is targeted.
Judy Blume talks about banned books in honor or Banned Books Week.