Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. Summary and Analysis of Chapters 22-25

Every time Margaret begins to talk to God, she now catches herself and stops. Desperate to get out of the house and away from her maternal grandparents, she has her mother drop her off downtown to see a movie with Janie. The two girls go into the drugstore first since they're early, and they decide to each buy a box of period pads, even though they're scared to do so. When Margaret gets home that day, she tries on one of the pads, and likes the way it feels. The next morning, Margaret's grandparents announce that they'll be going to stay at a hotel in New York instead of at the Simons' house, and Margaret is extremely upset because her grandparents ruined her vacation for nothing.

The next day the doorbell rings and, to Margaret's immense surprise, it's Sylvia. She's come up from Florida because Margaret couldn't come down, and she's brought her new beau, Mr. Binamin. They're both surprised to learn that Margaret's maternal grandparents have left already, and Sylvia asks if they tried any "church business." Margaret says yes, and Sylvia reminds her to never forget that she's a Jewish girl, which makes Margaret realize that sometimes Sylvia isn't any different from her other grandparents. Margaret wonders what difference religion even makes, anyway.

The next Friday, the sixth-graders must submit their individual year-long reports. Obviously, Margaret has come to no firm conclusions in the course of her religion experiment; instead of a report, she simply hands Mr. Benedict a letter explaining the situation, describing all the different churches and temples she visited and admitting that she didn't feel any attachment to any of them. She tries to tell him in person, but gets upset and begins to cry, so she runs away to the bathroom.

At the very end of the year, the PTA throws the class a farewell party; the sixth-graders give Mr. Benedict a gift and thank him, and in return he thanks them for giving him lots of experience so that he will go into his next year of teaching knowing exactly what he's doing. The four PTSes have their own lunch alone downtown and discuss what it will be like to go to Junior High, and Margaret's mother begins packing Margaret's trunk for camp that summer. When Margaret sees Moose outside mowing the lawn, she accuses him of lying about going behind the A&P with Laura Danker—Moose is shocked at the accusation, denies that he ever said anything, and tells Margaret that she shouldn't believe everything she hears. Margaret realizes that Moose is right.

Margaret is still thinking about Moose as she goes inside into the bathroom; suddenly, she looks down at her underpants and sees that she's actually gotten her period. She can't believe it and calls for her mom. Her mom is naturally excited for her, and tries to show her how to use pads; Margaret laughs and says she's been practicing in her room for two months. Later, Margaret talks to God again for the first time in a long time and thanks him for finally helping her to grow up.


The contrast between Margaret's maternal grandparents and her grandmother Sylvia is most prominent in these chapters. Where Sylvia is outspoken and doting, Margaret's mother's parents are colder and quieter, and their attempts to get to know Margaret seem forced and insincere. But there is one area, as Margaret acknowledges, in which they all are alike: they all think they know what's best for Margaret when it comes to religion. Sylvia, of course, has known Margaret her whole life, so she's grown used to the idea that Margaret will choose for herself, but she still drops hints and pressures Margaret now and again. In that way, she isn't too different from the other grandparents.

Now that we've reached the end of the novel, it is important to discuss the ways in which Margaret has grown or, as is the proper phrase for novels such as this one, "come of age." She has, of course, physically grown up since she first moved to Farbrook, New Jersey: she began to wear her first bra, developed her first crush, and got her period for the very first time. Most of the things she hoped would happen have happened over the course of the school year, and while she may not be as big or developed as girls like Laura Danker, she's reassured now that she is "normal" and growing correctly.

In terms of religion, Margaret has certainly reached a bit of a stalemate: she's experimented with churches and temples, with Christianity and Judaism, but she hasn't felt a connection strong enough to justify devoting her life to one or the other. This lack of progress upsets her, as evidenced by her breakdown when she tries to talk to Mr. Benedict about it, but in general, by the end of the novel she seems okay with the idea of maintaining her personal relationship with God. She would prefer to continue her own private discussions, rather than try to force a religious choice that she clearly isn't ready to make yet, if she even makes one at all. Margaret makes an important point when Sylvia comes to visit from Florida: as long as her grandma loves her and she loves her grandma, what difference does religion make?

But slowly, as she changes physically and explores her different religious options, Margaret changes in a few profound psychological ways as well. Over the course of her journey through the sixth grade, Margaret has learned many important lessons. For one, rumors can be vicious; she must not listen to everything she hears about someone. For another, plans can change, and disappointments may come—she must learn to go with the flow and accept conflicts as she encounters them. She's also learned that forgiveness is important; yes, Nancy lied to her about her period, but she had to forgive her because everyone makes mistakes. If Margaret hadn't forgiven, her friendship with Nancy would have remained in jeopardy.

Most importantly, though, Margaret learns that she must be patient in all aspects of life. When it comes to growing up, things don't move very quickly when you sit around waiting for them; however, if you are patient, time will fly by much more quickly than you might expect. Margaret has learned that waiting can be necessary: waiting for her body to change, waiting for a boy to like her, and of course waiting to determine which religion is right for her. By the end of the novel, this young protagonist has realized that waiting produces rewards, and that it is important not to rush because without new milestones in the distance, there will be nothing to look forward to.