In our effort to read new books while hopefully gaining insight into the various mysteries on ABC’s Lost, my wife and I are reading the books that appear on the show. We are, of course proceeding on the assumption that the books referenced and shown are included because of the way they interact with the show’s themes and not just because any given book was what the propmaster had on the truck when an actor needed something to do with his hands.
I started with Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. It’s about a sixth grade girl whose family moves to the suburbs. She buys her first bra, discovers boys, and hopes to not be the last to get her first period. Margaret also struggles with religion. Her mother is Christian and her father is Jewish, but she’s being raised without any religion, and she desperately wants to belong to one.
Reading this as a 35 year old man is probably akin to reading the literature of space aliens, but I did appreciate it for what it was: a book for pre-teen girls nervous about adolescence, and I can see why it’s so popular with that age group. It’s upbeat, hopeful and it makes it clear that it’s okay to be who you are. It’s also very honest and realistic, which I assume is why some people take issue with Judy Blume and try to ban her books.
Okay now on to Lost.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret makes its cameo in the episode in which Sun finds out she is pregnant (“The Whole Truth”). Presumably, she has just missed her period. In the hope that he might have a pregnancy test, Sun goes to Sawyer, who has been hoarding everything he scavenged from the plane crash. Sawyer is naturally reading a book he found in the wreckage. The books Sawyer reads seem to reflect on the episode at hand and in this regard Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret seems a clever joke considering Sun’s circumstances.
There are two other connections that I wonder about.
The first is the way in which Margaret constantly develops the wrong impression about people. She believes the lies told by the other girls about Laura Danker, the girl in class who has clearly already entered puberty. Everyone says she’s mean and something of a slut, and all the other girls make fun of her. It turns out she’s not any of those things as Margaret learns when she hurts Laura’s feelings. The other case of mistaken assumption concerns a boy: Philip Leroy, the most handsome boy in the class. Margaret and all her friends think that Philip is quite the young gentleman, and they all list him at the top of their “boy books” but he’s really just a mustard throwing, spitball slinging, girl tormenting little turd.
This is all important to keep in mind when thinking about Lost because as all the drama of Sun’s pregnancy is being played out on the beach, Henry Gale is being held hostage in the hatch. Who is Henry Gale? He’s one of “The Others” and we are to assume that this makes him one of the bad guys, but I’m not one hundred percent certain that the Others are the bad guys. Are we misreading Henry – assuming he is evil simply because we don’t really know much about him – just as Margaret misread Laura and Philip?
The second Lost connection concerns matters of faith. Margaret wrestles with faith and her relationship with God in much the same way that John Locke wrestles with his. Every night Margaret talks to God and asks for guidance and help with her problems. Locke’s act of daily devotion is to enter the numbers into the computer and push the button in the hatch every 108 minutes. It’s his prayer and what gives meaning to his life, but events in this episode lead to the season finale in which Locke decides to quit pushing that button just as Margaret quit praying.
The issue of wrestling with one’s faith is the clearest connection between Lost and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. It’s a central theme on the show and its treatment in Blume’s book of adolescent angst is what makes it’s inclusion in the show more than just a humorous juxtaposition created by the image of the rugged, hard, and cynical Sawyer engrossed in a book written specifically for pre-teen girls. It’s a subtle reminder of the way in which faith and reason frequently go to war with one another both in real life and on Lost.