First bra, first period, first kiss — among the many milestones of female adolescence, Judy Blume’s classic, and often-banned, novel, Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, has served as a touchstone for generations of girls traversing the terrifying and exhilarating gulf between being a kid and becoming an adult. For the first time this year, fans will have the opportunity to see Margaret’s story, and its reflection of their own, play out on the big screen.
The film, starring Rachel McAdams as Margaret’s mom, will hit theaters on September 16. While the trailer has not been released yet to the public, it scored big laughs at CinemaCon, according to Deadline.
Opening with the line, “Hello, girls, we’re going to talk about your changing bodies,” a perfect introduction for all the material that the book addresses, the trailer closes with the unforgettable refrain, “We must, we must, we must increase our bust.”
While the title character is 12 years old, and the 1970 book was YA incarnate before it became a marketing term, the film also has plenty to offer those of us experiencing adolescence anew via our own children. According to McAdams, who has her own son and daughter, the character of Margaret’s mother enjoys a fully-developed role in the movie.
“It was heartbreaking to me that she worked really hard to not burden her child with her own past, yet it’s such a part of who she is,” McAdams told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview. “But there’s no way it wasn’t going to come up. It is just a real cacophony of honest, truthful things women and mothers experience on a whole.”
Dads, also, will see their experiences reflected. “And for men, too,” said McAdams. “Benny Safdie plays the dad in this and is just so warm, and he’s struggling with what it is to have a girl who’s changing before his very eyes.”
Blume, 84, resisted selling the film rights to many of her books for decades, but had a change of heart in 2018 and sold Margaret to writer-director Kelly Freman Craig, whose adolescence-themed The Edge of Seventeen Blume had admired, and hit producer James L. Brooks.
“I think the time has come,” Blume tweeted then. In 2021, once preliminary casting for the film had been announced, Blume explained to Entertainment Weekly: “I thought, let’s do this while I’m still around to enjoy it.”
Craig’s enthusiasm for the project echoed the sentiments of readers, for whom the book, first released in 1970 — and given a sanitary pad sans belt update in 1998 — was revelatory.
“It felt like a life raft at a time when you’re lost and searching and unsure” said Craig. “This book comes along and tells you you’re not alone. Women remember where they were when they read it. I can’t think of another book you can say that about.”
Margaret’s story came as a kind of outpouring for its author as well. “For the first time since I’d started writing, I let go and this story came pouring out,” Blume says on her personal website. “I felt as if I’d always known Margaret.”
Adding to generations of readers, moviegoers will soon be able to say the same.