Friday, June 22, 2007

Not for the faint of heart....

Books have always been a huge part of my life. I remember the rush I used to get filling out those Scholastic book order forms in elementary school then the pure joy when the books came. I think my fellow classmates probably thought I'd spent too much time around the glue as giddy as I would get to touch the smooth covers of my new Clifford, Cricket in Times Square, Pippi Longstocking, etc, etc, books for the first time.




As entertaining as all of those books were, the one that had the most impact on me when I was younger was, Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret. I was probably about eleven at the time, and for all purposes, I was Margaret Simon. I heard about the book in hushed tones in the girls bathroom. The rumor was that it talked about girls getting their periods and it wasn't anything like that stupid movie we had to sit through when they gave us the pamphlet that we had to hide in our textbook. I had to get my hands on a copy. Not a reader of books, my mom probably would have bought me The Thornbirds and not noticed, so I'm sure I had no trouble getting my own copy.




I was stunned to open the first page and find that Margaret was secretly talking to God inside her head! I thought I was the only person alive who did that. I'd make secret bargains with him to catch the attention of a certain boy or get on the cheerleading squad (he didn't think that last one was necessary). I wasn't conflicted about religion like Margaret was, but I didn't know that much about it either, and it was nice to know that I wasn't alone.


Like the PTA's (the pre-teen sensations) I had my own Gretchen, Nancy, and Janie. Our mothers would gather for coffee at the local restaurant every morning and gossip. I was mortified one morning when my mother accidentially disclosed that one of us had started our period. It was horrifying. What if I was the last one to be discussed? Would it make me less of a woman somehow? As scared as I was for the day to actually come, I was even more scared that it never would. Margaret's struggle to want to grow up, but be fearful of it at the same time, matched mine exactly. Of course, it eventually happened for both of us and while Margaret was brave and bought one of those jumbo-sized boxes from a boy cashier, I spent twenty extra dollars piling stuff I didn't need on top of my tiny box rung up by a girl cashier.


There were so many themes in this book that resonated with my life at the time. I had been dumped by my best friend since kindergarten and felt a little like Margaret does when she realizes that Nancy is a liar. My parents were divorced and I was being shuffled to another state every summer being uprooted from my life. Margaret had two selfish grandparents who cared more about her religious label than the fact that she was their only grandchild. I could go on forever with how much Judy Blume touched me with this book. So thanks, Judy! I haven't read their book yet, but several authors recently released an anthology about how Judy Blume's novels affected them, see it here, http://http//www.amazon.com/Everything-Needed-About-Being-Learned/dp/1416531041/ref=sr_1_7/104-6168289-5727954?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1182481631&sr=8-7


Last year I sent Judy an email to let her know that on the television show Lost, the character of Sawyer (back off, Tina) was shown sitting on the beach reading this book. She actually wrote back and thanked me for letting her know. She had never watched the show but was going to try and get ahold of that episode. And yes, it was her writing me and not some assistant. I was in heaven! I don't think you ever get over your first author crush!


What I'm reading... The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger


xo,



Steph



All that matters is what's inside...as long as your outside is wearing the tiara!



REVENGE OF THE HOMECOMING QUEEN, July 3,2007, Berkley Jam Books



WWW.STEPHANIEHALE.COM



4 comments:

TinaFerraro said...

Steph, I'll be happy to "share" Sawyer with Judy Blume. But with you? Not so much. :)

I wanted to add that I was also the Princess of the Scholastic Book Order. Often I'd order 10 or 15 and have a virtual tower on my desk on delivery day. Which made me a bit of a weirdo (no one read like I did), but a very excited weirdo!

Heather Davis said...

This was a great book, Steph. Judy Blume's YA books brought up subjects parents had a hard time addressing. They are still some of the most popular books in the elmentary/Jr High library. I remember reading this one and also -- what was the one about the boy with his issues? -- along with FOREVER, anoter classic. Judy rocks.

Tera Lynn Childs said...

What a great story, Steph. It's amazing how some books can find you at just the right time. =) I'm not sure if I ever read this Judy Blume--I know I read TALES OF A FOURTH GRADE NOTHING, SUPERFUDGE and BLUBBER. What amazes me about Judy Blume is that she's written for such broad audiences, from picture books to adults. She definitely is in touch with universal themes.

Hugs,
TLC

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

Steph,

Are You There God, It's Me Margaret, totally prepared me for puberty since my mother actually never told anything about what was going to happen to me. Thank god for Judy Blume!