Judy Blume

How a critically acclaimed author has been a victim of censorship.

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The tremendous success of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (1970) was a turning point for Blume. She acknowledges that it was the first book she gave herself permission to write from her own experience, and it was then that she began to grow “as a writer and as a woman.” In the novel, Margaret Ann Simon, the child of a Jewish mother and a Christian father, asks God for direction in choosing a religion, and prays that she will soon get her period. When the story ends, Margaret is stuffing her bra with cotton balls. She has explored various religions but has chosen none.

Blume, who had no idea she was breaking any barriers with the novel, was surprised at the efforts to have her book banned from libraries. However, the New York Times Book Review ranked it as one of the best children’s books of the year, and it remains one of her most popular titles.

Blume’s great popularity can be attributed to her compassionate treatment of a range of subjects that concern her readers. Her books for younger children, such as Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (1972), Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great (1972), Blubber (1974) and Double Fudge (2002), deal with problems of sibling rivalry, self-confidence, and social ostracism.

Books for teenagers, such as Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (1970), Deenie (1973), and Just as Long as We’re Together (1987), consider matters of divorce, friendship, family breakups, and sexual development. Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself (1977) and Tiger Eyes (1981) explore issues of death and loss. Forever (1975) is the story of a young woman’s first love and first sexual experience. In each of her books, Blume’s characters confront their feelings of confusion as they begin to search for a resolution for their problems.

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Amy Gottlieb

Amy Gottlieb's short stories, poetry, and essays have appeared in Lilith, Forward, Puerto del Sol, Nashim, Zeek, PresenTense, and elsewhere. She was a recent Arts Fellow at the Drisha Institute and received a 2008 BRIO award for poetry from Bronx Council on the Arts.