Where in America Are You, God?

June Cummins

in The Oxford Handbook of Children's Literature

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780195379785
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Where in America Are You, God?

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This article shifts the conversation about Judy Blume's Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret (1970) from the controversy over its discussions of puberty to the postwar debate over American identity engaged in by popular sociologists such as David Riesman. It also argues that Margaret's struggles with religious identity may be read as an early meditation on a post-ethnic identity widely embraced today. Blume's recognition of her childhood connection to Riesman's work is telling, for Riesman focuses recurrently on children throughout his book. In Are You There God?, Blume often seems to argue with Riesman as she develops characters and situations that demonstrate constant negotiations of the tension between individualism and conformity in American identity rather than simply illustrating them. Margaret's forays into varying religions are both funny and touching. The enduring popularity of Are You There God? has much to do with the universal interest in puberty.

Keywords: Judy Blume; Are You There; It's Me; Margaret; Margaret Simon; puberty; American identity; David Riesman

Article.  10046 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Children's Literature Studies ; Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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