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

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. Then Again, Maybe I Won't — A Male's Take on Adolesence

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, which details a girl's transition from puberty to womanhood, is one of Judy Blume's more famous works. Yet many readers are unaware that that this novel inspired a counterpart called Then Again, Maybe I Won't, which revolves around a boy's transition from puberty to manhood. Though this novel explores slightly different secondary themes, the primary theme of coming-of-age is still ever-present.

The protagonist of Then Again, Maybe I Won't, Tony Miglione, lives in a middle-class neighborhood in Jersey City, New Jersey, until his father acquires a large sum of wealth from one of his inventions; after that, the family moves to an upper-class community in Rosemont, New York. Things are different there, for obvious reasons, but Tony still manages to make a friend, Joel Hoober, who seems polite and polished but really has some rebellious tendencies. He encourages Tony to adopt his lifestyle of prank calls, drinking, and shoplifting.

A lot of other changes occur for Tony at roughly the same time. As a result of her new life, Tony's mother becomes hellbent on climbing the social ladder. Tony's older brother's wife has a new baby, and then gets pregnant once again. And Tony himself becomes infatuated with Joel's teenage sister Lisa, and gets to know a girl named Corky who appears to like him (even though he doesn't like her back). Finally, Tony is enrolled in therapy because of serious concerns about Joel's negative influence.

At last, Tony gets over Lisa when he finds out she has a boyfriend, and ends his friendship with Joel because of his thievery. Joel's father is planning to send Joel to a military academy, and Joel even reveals that all of his bad behavior was the result of his parents' neglect.

Some of the secondary themes in this novel are more adult-oriented than the side topics in Are You There God?, but both Margaret and Tony are fundamentally similar: they deal not only with growing up and experiencing puberty, but also with more nuanced problems such as exploring religion and succumbing to secretive activity. Since it was inspired by Margaret's story, Then Again, Maybe I Won't is a wonderful companion to this novel and an interesting look at the other side of the coming-of-age coin.