By Laci Strouse
“Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” was the first Christian novel I ever read. I read it when I was twelve years old and immediately fell in love. The novel followed a middle school girl as she went through puberty for the first time and searched for religion. The novel was written over fifty years ago to help young girls navigate through middle school and find clean, relatable content and at last, it made it to the big screen.
The plot of the movie followed perfectly with the book, meaning there was no main plot. The movie progressed by simply showing Margaret, played by Abby Ryder Fortson, journeying through life. Fortson did a wonderful job of portraying emotions as a middle schooler. I was able to relate to her and think back to when I was in middle school. Her character also showed many flaws that humanized her. Instead of seeming like this perfect little girl, she too had her faults. This further made Margaret relatable and gave me the ability to empathize with her.
Laura Danker, played by Isol Young, was a character that was very tall, developed and sexualized by the girls in the film. She was constantly bullied, by Margaret and others, for being bigger than the other girls. Her character helped to show that girls go through puberty at different ages, and served as a learning lesson for both the girls in the movie and the girls in the audience.
I found all of the young girls in the movie as relatable as well. Their expressiveness made small moments stand out. They showed vivid expressions vividly when they saw the “the talk” video at school. Nancy, played by Elle Graham, screamed for her mother when her brother kept bothering her friends. While pad shopping, Janie, played by Amari Price, ran to put them back once seeing the cashier was a cute guy. It was little moments like these that made the characters relatable and added humor to the movie.
Margaret’s grandmother Sylvia, played by Kathy Bates, also added a lot of humor to the film. Her character was dramatic, carefree and spontaneous. I found myself laughing every time she appeared on the screen. Bates helped to move the movie forward by throwing events for Margaret to go to and stopping in for unexpected surprises. She had a huge contrast to Margaret’s other grandparents who were more sensible and refined.
Overall, this film is aimed more toward mothers and young girls. Many scenes can be viewed as uncomfortable for males to watch. The young girls were shown in their underwear and watched information about menstruation. The movie as a whole was intended for young girls to feel comfortable going through puberty.
I was very satisfied with the film. It matched up with the novel perfectly, fitting every major event that happened. I would definitely recommend reading the novel before watching the movie. It provides a little more context and prepares you for what is to some. However, if you want to be surprised, skipping the novel may be best. It felt great to watch a movie based on the first Christian book I’ve ever read, bringing my childhood to life. For all of the ladies out there, this movie is definitely worth the watch.
“Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” is now playing in theaters.
Laci Strouse is a freshman Professional Writing and Information Design major as well as a reporter for the Cedars. She enjoys reading Christian Fiction, embroidering, running, and golfing with her brothers.
Images courtesy of Lionsgate