Hannah Stern


Providence, RI



Young Adult literature importantly defies the notion that teens should be shielded from topics – like spiritual curiosity or puberty – that are inherent to the coming-of-age process, and it provides a safe space for readers to explore questions about these issues in their own time and with their own comfort. I’ve read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret at least thirty times in my life, ranging from age 8 or 9 to now. And while there are parts that definitely aren’t as relevant to my current life as they were then (thankfully I’m well past the age of "training bra" shopping), I’m still struck on each reread by how thoughtfully it shows the internal tension and discomfort that accompanies any major life transition, and that uncertainty and fear around these moments are totally normal – no matter how old you are.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, and the YA genre overall, emphasizes that fostering curiosity with information and respect, and not fear, is critical. Even when books don’t have all the answers, they teach us how to question ourselves, our communities, and the ways we have been asked or pushed to evaluate the systems around us. What I love about YA literature is that it deftly acknowledges that both this questioning and any accompanying feelings of aloneness are normal – and, not only are these thoughts normal, but they can be tempered by representations of communities and individuals which assure us that even though we are all unique, our conditions are relatable and interconnected.