Study Guide

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. Contrasting Regions: NYC vs. Farbrook, NJ

By Judy Blume

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Contrasting Regions: NYC vs. Farbrook, NJ

Are you there God? It's me, Margaret. We're moving today. I'm so scared God. I've never lived anywhere but here. Suppose I hate my new school? Suppose everybody there hates me? Please help me God. Don't let New Jersey be too horrible. Thank you. (1.1)

Some kids move a lot growing up, but for those that don't, much of their identity is formed by where they live. And the tricky part about moving away from New York City is that there's no place else quite like it—so Margaret was in for a big change no matter where her parents chose to live.

But when I groaned, "Why New Jersey?" I was told, "Long Island is too social—Westchester is too expensive—and Connecticut is too inconvenient."

So Farbrook, New Jersey it was, where my father could commute to his job in Manhattan, where I could go to public school, and where my mother could have all the grass, trees and flowers she ever wanted. Except I never knew she wanted that stuff in the first place. (1.4-5)

Where would you rather live and why?

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. (1.5)

Sound familiar? Farbrook, New Jersey is a lot like other suburbs. Note that though Margaret says, "It isn't bad," she also doesn't ever say it's good.

"No, thanks," my father said. "I'm looking forward to cutting it myself. That's one of the reasons we moved out here. Gardening is good for the soul." My mother beamed. They were really driving me crazy with all that good-for-the-soul business. I wondered when they became such nature lovers! (2.129)

Have your parents ever changed in ways that confuse you? It seems like Margaret's parents' passion for yard work has come completely out of left field.

"But they have food in New Jersey, Grandma."

"Not this kind."

"Oh yes," I said. "Even delicatessen."

"No place has delicatessen like New York!"

I didn't argue about that. Grandma has certain ideas of her own. (3.32-36)

Hey Grandma Sylvia—Farbrook is so close to NYC that Margaret's dad commutes there to work, which probably means the food isn't too different.

I hoped he decided I was normal, after all. I lived in New York for eleven and a half years and I don't think anybody ever asked me about my religion. I never even thought about it. (6.11)

She hasn't physically moved far from New York, but culturally there are lots of differences between Margaret's old home and Farbrook… religion may be the biggest one, though.

Grandma came back from her cruise in time to pack up and head for Florida. She said New York had nothing to offer since I was gone. (15.6)

We're pretty sure that New York has plenty to offer, even without one Margaret Simon, but as much as Grandma Sylvia seems to be a born and bred New Yorker, this quote tells us that family matters too. It's not just the city, it's the city and who's in it with you.

I forgot to tell you this over the phone, but when we went to Lincoln Center there was slush all over the place so I couldn't sit by the fountain. I had to wear boots too, and my feet sweated during the concert. Mom wouldn't let me take them off, the way you do. It snowed again yesterday. I'll bet you don't miss that, do you! But snow is more fun in New Jersey than in New York. For one thing, it's cleaner. (16.2)

Okay, so score one for New Jersey. Who wouldn't rather play in clean snow than dirty slush?

If I had been home I would have asked Dr. Cohen who he recommends in New Jersey. There must be one or two good doctors there. (16.4)

Does Grandma Sylvia really think that New Jersey is so lame that there's only one or two good docs in the whole state? Or is she still a little ticked that her Margaret is living in the Garden State without her?

We went to Radio City Music Hall. Grandma used to take me there when I was little. My parents always say it's strictly for the tourists. I wanted to sit next to Moose but he and Evan found two seats off by themselves. (17.2)

It seems kind of fun to revisit your old home and do touristy stuff that you'd pretty much never do when you lived there.

When my mother got back from driving them to the bus my father said, "How much do you want to bet it was a trip to New York all the time. They just stopped in to see you because it was convenient." (22.34)

If Margaret's Dad is right, this is harsh to both the Simons and New Jersey. How would you like to just be a convenience stop on the way to the big city? We sure wouldn't.

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. Contrasting Regions: NYC vs. Farbrook, NJ Study Group

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