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After 50 Years, Judy Blume’s ‘Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret’ Adapted for the Big Screen

Photo Credits: Andreas Rentz / Getty Images and Amy Sussman / Getty Images
Photo Credits: Andreas Rentz / Getty Images and Amy Sussman / Getty Images

There are countless popular books that have been made into films or television shows. In fact, as of late it seems that anytime a novel sells well, the rights are immediately purchased by a production company to capitalize off that success. However, it took the young adult author Judy Blume 50 years to sell the rights to her iconic novel Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret. It’s finally been made into a film with a 2023 release date.

A Judy Blume classic

Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret was published in 1970, with many reprints in the years that followed. It centers around the main character Margaret Simon as she navigates her struggles with adolescence and her religious identity as part of an interfaith family. It was immediately acclaimed after publication, with The New York Times choosing it as the Outstanding Book of the Year for 1970.

Judy Blume poses in front of a cityscape with piles of books beside her.
Novelist Judy Blume poses for a portrait in New York City, September 29, 2006. (Photo Credit: Karjean Levine/ Getty Images)

The novel was later chosen by Scholastic as one of the 100 Greatest Books for Kids, and Time called it one of the best English novels written since 1923. It is generally considered to be a middle-grade coming-of-age classic. Although Blume’s work is generally well-received for its relatable protagonist, it’s also periodically challenged for how it portrays Christians and for being too graphic about topics like puberty.

Film production

Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret remained popular enough over the years that producers continued to seek the rights so they could turn it from an on-page sensation to an on-screen hit. But it wasn’t until Blume was approached by James Brooks and Kelly Craig that she finally agreed to a film back in 2018. According to Craig, the author was hesitant because she thought “someone would turn the film into something very glossy and pretty, where all the edges were sanded off.”

After seeing one of Craig’s previous films, Blume felt confident that she would ensure Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret remained true to the novel, including all the highs and lows of the protagonist and those around her. It also helps that Craig considers herself a “diehard Judy Blume fan,” crediting the author with inspiring her to start writing for the first time. Yet it isn’t just the writers and producers who are captivated by the story.

Cast list

Many of the actors expressed their excitement about their roles and bringing the book to the screen. The main cast includes Rachel McAdams as Barbara Simon, Kathy Bates as Sylvia Simon, Abby Ryder Fortson as Margaret Simon, Benny Safdie as Herb Simon, and Elle Graham as Nancy Wheeler. There is also a large supporting cast playing friends and community members. Speaking about her role, Bates stated, “I think this film will help young women feel better about their bodies.”

McAdams was absolutely thrilled to be cast, saying, “Watching [Blume] watch her book come to life and to be a part of that was just so surreal…I just wanted to do right by her and give her the best Barb I could.” Taking on the main role, Fortson is arguably the most enthusiastic about the film. She shared, “Margaret and I are really similar. I love her. She’s so goofy and awesome. She’s all heart and love and just wants to have friends and figure out who she is.”

More from us: ‘Flowers in the Attic’ Is Based on a True Story and 12 Other Facts About V.C. Andrews

Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret has an anticipated release date of April 28, 2023 in the United States.

Rosemary Giles

Rosemary Giles is a history content writer with Hive Media. She received both her bachelor of arts degree in history, and her master of arts degree in history from Western University. Her research focused on military, environmental, and Canadian history with a specific focus on the Second World War. As a student, she worked in a variety of research positions, including as an archivist. She also worked as a teaching assistant in the History Department.

Since completing her degrees, she has decided to take a step back from academia to focus her career on writing and sharing history in a more accessible way. With a passion for historical learning and historical education, her writing interests include social history, and war history, especially researching obscure facts about the Second World War. In her spare time, Rosemary enjoys spending time with her partner, her cats, and her horse, or sitting down to read a good book.