Are You There, God? It’s me, Margaret: Recommended Readalikes

Puberty can be confusing and exhilarating. Body parts change suddenly, emotions swing wildly, and it seems that everyone else knows what’s happening to your body except you. Young readers who secretly, and not-so-secretly, admired Margaret’s frank discussions about periods, bodies, and boys might enjoy the following books:

  • The Moon Within by Aida Salazar
    Eleven-year-old Celi Rivera is Black, Puerto Rican, Mexican Indian, and full of questions about her rapidly approaching period. To make matters worse, her mother and the other female community members plan to hold an ancestral Mexica moon ceremony to celebrate the occasion; the last thing Celi wants is attention on her as she begins her unstable transition into adulthood. Celi isn’t the only one making the journey, though. Her best friend is transitioning from Magda to Marco and exploring his genderfluid identity. Full of the same love, body positivity, and sex positive affirmations that appeared in Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, The Moon Within is a middle age novel not to miss.
  • Reckless, Glorious, Girl by Ellen Hagan
    Beatrice Miller doesn’t care much for her grandmotherly name, despite loving the woman she was named after. What she does care about is her uncertain future: “Who am I? Who will I become? And will my outside ever match the way I feel on the inside?” Thankfully, she has an intergenerational household full of strong Southern women like her mom and Mamaw to guide and support her. Readers who connected with Margaret’s age-appropriate struggles will appreciate Beatrice’s worries about shaving her legs, wearing a bra, and wondering when she’ll get her first period.
  • Welcome to Your Period! by Yumi Stynes & Dr. Melissa Kang
    Back in our day, education about your period was handled by your least favorite teacher looking increasingly uncomfortable as she tried to explain what a uterus was. If you were lucky, one of the popular tampon or pad companies sent a representative to give a little talk and hand out informational brochures. You were somehow always too young for the talk before it happened, yet too old and knowledgeable afterwards. But times are changing. Dr Melissa Kang (a former Dolly Doctor) and Yumi Stynes lead tweens through the basics of the menstruation cycle, demystify what cramps feel like, and what to do in the case of leakage. The book includes questions submitted from girls from ages 9 to 12.

Teens and adults looking for books about the other side of womanhood might try some of these titles:

  • Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick
    Margaret confuses most people she meets by not openly practicing an organized religion. Her friends and extended family spend most of the book insisting that she must practice something, despite her protests that she doesn’t attend any sort of services. She insists, time and time again, that she and her parents are “nothing.” Kate Bolick explores a similar idea in her biography, visiting the idea of women who have chosen to remain single despite the historical and societal pressure to marry. Just as views on religion have changed, so too have ideas about marriage and womanhood.
  • Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado
    An incredible collection of short stories centering the violence surrounding women’s bodies, Carmen Maria Machado provides everything from psychological realism and science fiction, to comedy and horror, to fantasy and fabulism. Fans of folklore, urban legends, and fairy tales will recognize mentions of haunted second-hand dresses and green ribbons tied around necks.
  • White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color by Ruby Hamad
    Despite the depth that the discussions of religion and sexuality go in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, they are still explored from a white girl’s (tween’s, young lady’s, woman’s) perspective. The intersectionality of gender and race oppression has a habit of slipping from discussions or stopping them completely. Ruby Hamad expertly explores the historical effects that white feminism had, and continues to have, on women of color. The book describes the ways in which white vulnerability is both a weakness and a weapon at the same time; social media users will already be familiar with the concepts of a “Karin” or “WASP”.

Bonus Recommendation:

  • Turning Red
    We don’t know if or when this movie will be released to DVD or BluRay but, if you have the opportunity, we highly recommend you give it a watch. Main character Meilin “Mei” Lee has two sides to her: the obedient, well behaved, little girl her mother wants her to be and the fun loving, adventurous, 4Town-obsessed pre-teen she’s becoming. As if dealing with all of that and hitting puberty wasn’t enough, she’s horrified to find that she “poofs” into a giant red panda whenever she gets too excited. Written and produced by women, Turning Red is a funny, relatable, and touching coming-of-age story that explores the complexities of puberty and girlhood.

This blog is created by Hannah and Ella in conjunction with the These Books Made Me podcast, a Prince George’s County Memorial Library System production. Check out the corresponding episode, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you normally listen to podcasts. Or you can simply click on the link to the episode to listen.

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