Are You There God? It's Me, Wonderturtle
This book sucked. Sucked! It absolutely symbolized my complete failure to be a normal girl.
I wasn't even aware of this book until after everyone in my grade had already read it. This was unsurprising, as my bandwagon book-reading habits had followed a similar pattern with Sweet Valley High, Sweet Valley Twins,
and Anne of Green Gables.
I had to put my foot down when it came to The Babysitter's Club
, but that is probably because only a small sub-section of the popular girls actually read those.
So Judy Blume. Turns out that here was this book that was supposed to unlock the mysteries of what pre-teen girls were really
thinking. "Finally," I thought, "someone to clue me in!" I always felt woefully inadequate in my quest for average girldom.
I may be alone in this, and I feel almost as nervous about saying it as I have about using this forum to publicly diss Debbie Gibson
in the past. But I really, really did not like this book.
I thought this Margaret chick seemed whiny and pathetic, and she was far too obsessed with boys who were mean, and the girls who were supposed to be her friends were mean, too. But this was a book about the average pre-teen girl.
If I didn't have Margaret's fears and concerns, what did that say about me?
Looking back now, I realize that instead of reassuring me that my fears and concerns were OK, it only made me suspect that I had missed something, and was terribly behind in what I was supposed to be afraid of and concerned about.
Training bras and menstruation, apparently, were supposed to be the penultimate teen girl experiences, and I had neither. She prayed a lot in this weird, chitchatty way. The title, perhaps meant to be endearing, gave a creepy feeling that I now recognize as existential.
I think this book was absolutely not written for pre-teen girls. It was meant to be, but it's not. When I read it then I felt like it was an adult's imagining of my experience, which is weird since Judy had actually been a pre-teen girl herself. But maybe the actuality of being thirteen is too difficult to define on a page.
I have yet to read a book that truly, successfully re-creates the paradoxical darkness-and-innocence of those years. And even if I thought I found one now, it would only be what I recognize through the glass of all the time since.