Farbrook, New Jersey—1970
Welcome to Farbrook, New Jersey, a far cry from New York City where Margaret was born and a suburb where everything looks the same. As Margaret describes it:
The new house is on Morningbird Lane. It isn't bad. It's part brick, part wood. The shutters and front door are painted black. Also, there is a very nice brass knocker. Every house on our new street looks a lot the same. They are all seven years old. So are the trees. (1.6)
We're only six paragraphs into the book and already we know that our main girl has found herself in a place with very specific—and very narrow—ideas about how things should be. If this weren't true, every house wouldn't look the same. This is important because it sets the stage for the struggles Margaret is about to face, struggles that—whether about picking a religion or wearing a bra—are all about fitting in and not standing out. Good luck with that one, Margaret.
The book is set around the same time that it was published—1970—which definitely dates some of the references (we're looking at you loafers and sanitary napkin belts). It doesn't really matter, though, because what Margaret grapples with—fitting in, staying true to herself, bodily changes, and more—are classic coming-of-age problems. So while some of the scenery is dated, the feelings are pretty timeless.