In 1970, Judy Blume published Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. The name of this blog is a take-off on that young adult novel. It was very popular among Generation X girls born between 1961 and 1981. It’s popularity continued with Gen Y (1982 – 1999) and now Generation Z (2000 to Present).
The book is about 6th grade Margaret growing up without any religious affiliation. Her mom is Christian and her dad is Jewish, Margaret is on a quest to choose between the two. In the end, she chooses Judaism. The book also covers many adolescent issues including boys, bras and changing bodies.
Pre-Teen Book Censorship
Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret has been banned from some school libraries and some require parental consent before kids can check out a copy. Over the years, it has been frequently challenged as sexually offensive, amoral, anti-Christian and profane.
I read the book the summer between 7th and 8th grade. Thank you, Linda Wilson, wherever you are. She was my BFF at the time and let me borrow her copy. I loved it and it actually reinforced my relationship with God. I think I had my richest prayer life in 8th grade. No kidding. It also inspired many conversations about God between my friends and me.
Lord, It’s Me Jennifer.
In 1984, Standard Publishing published the first in a series of 12 books about an adolescent girl named Jennifer. It’s called It’s Me, Jennifer. They were written by Jane Sorenson, and in my opinion represent an evangelical Christian push-back on Blume’s book. Just like Margaret, Jennifer Green, the protagonist, talks to God. Each chapter begins, Lord, It’s Me Jennifer.
Amazon categorizes these books as Juvenile Fiction / Religious / Christian. I never read any of them and have had a hard time finding any biographical information about the author. I did find a blog post, however, by Linda Without Borders. As a young girl, she read the entire series. Here’s what she had to say about it:
“They were totally Christianed out…I really think I may be the only person on the planet to have ever bought these books…isn’t it kind of funny that I of all people in fact read them? I adored them, though. I wrote letters to the author, too, and she answered. I even argued religion with her. Damn, I was a freaky 12-year-old…”
Linda goes on to give high marks to Book #8 about Haiti as a great novel travelogue.
Jennifer Books Synopses
Here’s a rundown of the Jennifer series including a synopsis of each book. I think I would have loved this series as a girl! The themes are pretty universal and representative of many generations, not just Generation X.
Book 1: It’s Me, Jennifer
Jennifer and her two brothers are sent to Sunday school for the first time after one of her brothers take the Lord’s name in vain.
Book 2: It’s Your Move, Jennifer
When Jennifer’s father is promoted to East Coast Vice-President, the family must make a new home for itself a thousand miles away from old friends and familiar ties.
Book 3: Jennifer’s New Life
Jennifer and her family discover that life in Pennsylvania is different from that in their old home, but the church provides a real sense of friendship and belonging for Jennifer and her brother Justin.
Book 4: Jennifer Says Goodbye
After Jennifer’s family returns from a visit to her grandparents in Florida, death takes them back to Illinois for the first time since their move to Pennsylvania.
Book 5: Boyfriend
Jennifer becomes involved in eighth-grade activities, develops friendships with two boys, and goes on her first date.
Book 6: Once Upon A Friendship
As their friendship deepens, Jennifer and Heidi make important discoveries about physical attractiveness and inner beauty.
Book 7: Fifteen Hands
Jennifer’s excitement over the Winter Carnival and her new horse is tempered by her friend Chris’s problems with her alcoholic mother.
Book 8: In Another Land
While visiting Haiti, Jennifer makes some discoveries about the poverty and health problems of the Haitians that lead to her personal commitment to sponsor a child there.
Book 9: The New Pete
Anxious to be accepted by the popular crowd, Jennifer’s brother Pete makes several attempts at changing his image before finding his true place.
Book 10: Out With the Crowd
Jennifer’s attempt to fit in with the “in-crowd” is rather disastrous and she learns to appreciate her real, Christian friends.
Reminiscing about how they came to be friends, Jennifer and Heidi discuss what it must feel like to be a newcomer and to be left out of a group.
Book 12: Family Crisis
Jennifer and her brothers discover that reality is worse than their imaginations when their father loses his job.
The Jennifer Chronicles
There are so many books with the name Jennifer and Jenny in the title. I will be covering many of these throughout the year as part of the blog post series, The Jennifer Chronicles. One Jennifer, every day, for a year. Thanks for following along.