It’s been nearly 50 years since Judy Blume‘s groundbreaking book Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was first published, and in that time she has consistently turned down myriad offers to turn her seminal novel into a film. That is until now, as the author has finally signed off on a film adaptation of her most famous work.
Blume has granted the rights to producer James L. Brooks‘ Gracie Films and The Edge Of Seventeen director Kelly Fremon Craig, who will write and direct the adaptation of one of the biggest YA novels of all time.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was first published in 1970 and quickly became a classic, especially to a generation of girls who related to protagonist Margaret, a sixth grader who moves from New York City to Farbrook, New Jersey. Raised by a religiously indifferent Christian mother and a Jewish father, she prays to a God she imagines is watching over her.
She is curious of the changes happening to her body, and forms a secret club with four other girls where they discuss topics such as boys, bras, and periods. At the time, the subject matter was revolutionary and there were calls for the book to be banned from libraries. It is consistently listed as one of the best works of fiction written in the 20th century.
Fremon Craig reportedly wrote Blume a passionate letter when she learnt that the author was considering changing her mind about an adaptation of the book. She said: “I wrote a long and passionate email to her, telling her what her books meant to me, particularly Margaret, how it came along at a time when I needed it most”.
Soon after, she and Brooks met with Blume, sold her on the idea, and began discussing ideas for the film. Fremon Craig went on to say:
“I got the greatest email from Judy where she said if someone were to make a film of one of her books, she hoped it would have the same tone and feeling that The Edge of Seventeen had. It’s maybe the greatest compliment I’ve ever gotten, because she has always been a North star for me as a writer”.
Fremon Craig also mentioned how she called Brooks – who also produced The Edge Of Seventeen – when she found out that the rights were potentially going to be up for grabs because “I thought if somehow we can get this, nobody else will care – and protect – it more”.
Brooks went on to mention how the project came together really quickly, and that even though the book was written almost 50 years ago and many coming-of-age stories have followed it, he and Fremon Craig believe that the themes and story are timeless enough that they’ll lend themselves to a compelling narrative.
“It definitely won’t feel like a period piece”, he said. “People have read at various stages and it felt present and immediate”.
For fans of the novel, this is about as perfect of a pairing for the adaptation as one could hope for. Brooks has always been known for capturing emotional honesty in his own work, while Fremon Craig proved with The Edge Of Seventeen what a remarkable talent she is, earning a nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in First Time Feature Film by the Directors Guild of America.