“Are you there, God? It’s Me, Margaret’ arrives
If you ask kids who grew up with Judy Blume, they will tell you exactly what they learned from each of Blume’s books; what taboo rites of passage each book introduced; probably even where they were physically and developmentally when they first stumbled across this information. You might very well remember the exact page number of the paperback passed around middle school where the most revealing passages appeared.
I recently read her classic “Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret,” ahead of watching the film adaptation, which begins this week, 52 years after the book’s release.
As far as I remember, Margaret was mostly about puberty, specifically getting your period for the first time. I vividly recalled the famous scenes when Margaret was first introduced to sanitary napkins and when she and her friends were doing exercises to “get out of those baby bras,” chanting, “We gotta – we gotta – we gotta our bust size.” enlarge!”
However, when I reread the book, I was struck not only by its big moments, but also by the many small, almost trivial ones that I had unknowingly incorporated into my understanding of the world.
There’s an early scene where Margaret’s father injures himself while mowing the lawn and Margaret runs into the yard “to look for the limb” in case the doctor might be able to sew it back on.
I stopped abruptly. That scene was as real to me as one of my own memories. It was when I read the book as a teenager that I first heard about such a gruesome surgical procedure. I didn’t think about it actively anymore, but “always look for the limb” became part of my smartass’ worldview, a piece of wisdom that was never questioned. I have never linked this knowledge to the book or any source.
Margaret also made me believe that wearing slippers with socks makes you “look like a baby” and that it’s possible to get a custom label on a homemade sweater that says “Made exclusively for you… from Grandma”. Small details, certainly not the main themes of the book, not what I would say to any adult at the time that I “taken away” from reading it.
The film Margaret — which you should see if you loved the book or director Kelly Fremon Craig’s first film, Edge of Seventeen — is full of those details, moments that quietly transform a young reader. As I watched it, I felt tiny electrical connections being made between my childhood brain and my adult brain, between the data entered decades ago and the coherent knowledge it has become.
THE WEEK IN CULTURE
📚 “Trust” (Tuesday): Hernan Diaz’s novel, now available in paperback, chronicles the life of an early 20th-century New York financier from four different perspectives. Named one of The Times’ top 10 books of 2022 by The Times, we called Trust an “exhilarating pursuit.”
🍿 “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” (Friday): One of the few directors to bounce back and forth between the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe, James Gunn takes another swing with Star Lord and company before embarking on another Superman reboot. Expect jokes, classic rock tunes, and light profanity.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Whether you’re planning a festive spring get-together or want to cook up something extra special for dinner this weekend, Anna Francese Gass’ delightful Artichoke Carbonara could be just the ticket. In her clever recipe, she elevates an easy weeknight pasta by stirring in canned or frozen artichoke quarters and adding flavor and texture with little effort. For a vegetarian version, omit the pancetta and instead caramelize some onions or mushrooms in the pan. Then fill each bowl with a raw egg yolk for the silkiest carbonara sauce imaginable.
ADVICE FROM WIRECUTTER
Make your cold brew
If you don’t love iced coffee year-round, you might be making the annual transition from hot drip to cold brew. It can be a waste at the coffee shop, but at home switching to cold brew could actually save you money. A good cold brew maker, like OXO’s Wirecutter’s Pick, can smooth out the rough edges of cheap, mediocre beans and produce a sweet, mild concentrate that lasts all week. I even like to brew the same coffee grounds twice – coffee pros may object, but the results are great, especially with a dash of milk. – Marguerite Preston
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers, NHL Playoffs: These two teams are so close that you could probably see one arena from the top of the other without the skyscrapers getting in the way. Perhaps that’s why they’ve felt so comfortable playing away games: Rangers started the streak with two stunning wins in Newark, and then the Devils won two games in Manhattan. The Devils are now leading the series 3-2 and can progress tonight with a win. Good news for you: the game will take place in New York. 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC.
More NHL news
The Islanders – New York’s other team – were eliminated by the Carolina Hurricanes last night. The Dallas Stars knocked off the Minnesota Wild.
The Boston Bruins’ historic season is in trouble as they head into Game 7 against the Florida Panthers after last night’s loss.
NOW TIME TO PLAY
The pangram from yesterday’s Spelling Bee was excitement. Here is today’s puzzle.
What were the hardest and easiest 10 words from Spelling Bees last week? See our lists here.