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date: 18 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

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

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