I’ve made a point of reading Judy Blume books to my kid. That wouldn’t have even been worthy of writing down 20 years ago, but now that there’s been an explosion of kid and YA- lit, these books are somehow not seen as essential extracurricular texts, never mind actually taught in school – no disrespect to her sort-of peers, Lois Lowry and Beverly Cleary, but they make it into classrooms a lot more than Judy Blume.
The upside to this, though, is that Judy has retained control of her image and properties, and largely hasn’t wanted them adapted. The exceptions are Tiger Eyes, directed by Judy’s son Lawrence (or Larry if you’re in the know), and a one-season adaptation of the Fudge books that I can’t find and would do a lot to get my hands on.
The silver lining when I think about it, though, is that it’s clear Judy doesn’t want her readers to consume something sub-par. And that she’s well aware her readers are, you know… us. That’s why it was so thrilling when in 2018 it was announced that she had agreed to let Kelly Fremon Craig adapt Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret, partly based on how much she’d enjoyed Craig’s Edge of Seventeen.
Still, I was nervous, because the whole thing about Margaret, the character and the book, is that she’s well aware that the adults in her lives have facets she’s just beginning to discover – while you probably remember the breast-growing exercises and endless waiting for her period, Margaret also undergoes a pretty significant religious exploration, for a 12-year-old.
But the casting gives me great, great hope. Margaret will be played by Abby Ryder Fortson, who previously played Cassie in the Ant Man movies, and has exactly the kind of smart, sassy affect without coming off as jaded and world-weary. But also? You guys?
Rachel McAdams is going to play Margaret’s mom.
I’m not going to lie, Rachel McAdams is the one celebrity for whom I have no objectivity, who I believe would indeed be my best friend if we knew each other – which could happen! We live in the same city (sometimes) even! But more importantly, Rachel McAdams is not gonna take on a thankless ‘mom’ role where the biggest challenge is finding 15 variants of ways to say the word “sweetie”. She doesn’t have to, because see above where she’s Rachel McAdams!
But Judy Blume’s quote, that “ I'm so excited that Margaret got a funny, sexy, sassy mom in Rachel”, reminds us of two key things that hint at a truly satisfying adaptation – one, Judy has never shied away from making the parents in her books real people, who are sexy and temperamental and have plenty of nuance, and two that, as EW points out later in the article, “the filmmakers are intent on creating a final product that targets everyone (read: not just adolescent girls)”.
That is, this movie is for us – the generation who grew up with Margaret and Judy, and not to be all about me, but that makes sense, since we’re the ones who will go to the movie based on name and title recognition, and recognize it as our job to pass the legends on to our kids.
I’m still overly impatient to see the movie, which is apparently shooting in April – one of my favourite podcasts, The Blume Saloon found evidence that preproduction is already happening in Atlanta – but this is enough for a Friday afternoon at the end of a long week, and if you decide to reread this weekend, I’ll be right there with you.