Though she has been dead for nearly 60, this biographical novel-in-verse attests to the continued fascination surrounding the Hollywood film star known as Marilyn Monroe. Born Norma Jeanne Mortensen to a teenage mother who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, Weatherford's narrative traces Monroe's early childhood of foster homes, orphanages, and sexual abuse to her escape into an early marriage at the age of 16. Attempting to balance her career aspirations with a deep yearning for love and acceptance, readers witness Monroe's rise to stardom, failed marriages, struggle with prescription drug abuse and mental illness, and eventually her suicide at the age of 36. While this volume joins the plethora of books on Marilyn Monroe, teens will nevertheless find this version fascinating in its psychological approach and engaging style. Readers learn that although Monroe was known as a sex symbol who perfected the role of a stereotypical "dumb blond," she struggled to be taken seriously as a dramatic actress with the ability to choose and control her own film projects. This psychologically nuanced biography portrays an intelligent, vulnerable woman who was profoundly troubled by a plethora of insecurities. Teens who are not put off by the novel-in-verse format will find this deeply satisfying for its unique perspective, compact narrative, and brevity. Libraries with a large budget will find this nicely complements their collections, while smaller libraries should purchase where it fills a particular need. Because only an unfinished galley was available, this review was not able to comment on the general layout, cover design, binding, and photos of the final copy.
Author(s): Carole Boston Weatherford
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Copyright Year: 2020
Reviewer: Tena Litherland, Central Library Director (Retired), Webb School of Knoxville, Knoxville, TN
Grade (as stated by Reviewer/SLC): 9-12
Review Date: June 26, 2020
From the day she was born into a troubled home to her reigning days as a Hollywood icon, Marilyn Monroe (née Norma Jeane Mortenson) lived a life that was often defined by others. Here, in a luminous poetic narrative, acclaimed author Carole Boston Weatherford tells Marilyn's story in a way that restores her voice to its rightful place: center stage. Revisiting Marilyn's often traumatic early life—foster homes, loneliness, sexual abuse, teen marriage—through a hard-won, meteoric rise to stardom that brought with it exploitation, pill dependency, and depression, the lyrical narrative continues through Marilyn's famous performance at JFK's birthday party, three months before her death. In a story at once riveting, moving, and unflinching, Carole Boston Weatherford tells a tale of extraordinary pain and moments of unexpected grace, gumption, and perseverance, as well as the inexorable power of pursuing one's dreams. A beautifully designed volume.
Media Type: Book, eBook
# Pages: 192
Sub-Genre: Novel in Verse