Chapter 1 Summary
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret begins as Margaret Simon talks to God. Her words sound like they belong in any ordinary conversation; she doesn't use the dears and amens people usually use in prayers. She tells God she is moving to New Jersey, which she hopes will not "be too horrible." She worries that she will hate her new school, or that her new classmates will hate her.
Margaret feels suspicious of her parents’ motives for moving. She has been away at camp for most of the summer, and now that she is home, she finds that her parents have bought a house in New Jersey. When she asks why, they say all the other suburbs are “too social,” “too expensive,” or “too inconvenient.” This answer frustrates Margaret, who does not understand why she has to leave New York City in the first place.
Margaret’s parents try to get her excited by telling her all about the garden they will have and the public school she will attend. These conversations just confuse Margaret, who never knew her parents liked gardens or public schools.
Privately, Margaret thinks her parents are moving because of Grandma—also known as Sylvia Simon—who is a little controlling. Margaret loves Grandma, who knits her special sweaters and buys all kinds of cool presents. Until now, Grandma has always paid Margaret’s private school tuition, too. It upsets Margaret that Grandma “won’t be able to” do that anymore.
Although Grandma pays for some things, Margaret’s family is not poor. They are doing just fine, largely because she lacks brothers and sisters, which “cuts way down on food and clothes.” Her parents wanted more kids but never had any, and Margaret is glad. It means she does not have to get into fights all the time.
But it means Margaret needs an ally sometimes, and Grandma usually fills that role for her. Thinking it over, Margaret feels certain her parents are moving just to make sure Grandma does not influence Margaret so much. Grandma has no car, and she hates trains and buses. This means she is unlikely to visit New Jersey, which will be sad.
From Margaret’s perspective, the only good thing about the move is that she will no longer have to listen to Grandma's questions about boyfriends. Every time Grandma visits, she asks whether Margaret has found a special boy yet and whether he is Jewish. This annoys Margaret because she is only eleven, and she does not feel ready to date. Even if she did, she would not care about the boy’s religion.