Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4.5
Genre: historical fiction; novel in verse
What did you like about the book? Marilyn Monroe’s life is laid out in all its dysfunction and glory. From her childhood bouncing between foster homes to her career and love affair with the camera, Norma Jeane turned Marilyn Monroe’s life is explored in depth. The level of historical detail is incredible, but no surprise given the author’s previous nonfiction work. The reader will learn all about the traumatic childhood and early life experiences that made Norma Jeane Doughtery the person she became: her mother’s mental illness, sexual abuse, orphanages, and rejection from her father whom she never met. In addition, readers will learn that “dumb and blonde” is inaccurate on both counts; Norma Jeane was a natural brunette and she was far from dumb with an extensive library full of classics. Although she was frequently taken advantage of by the studios who owned her, she fought hard to control her own career every step of the way and highlights the ways her often “small” roles were the big sells for many movies. She also fought for others like Ella Fitzgerald who was denied bookings in some clubs because she was Black.
The first person verse is often arresting: “No one knows / how it feels / inside my troubled mind. / No one wants to.” but sometimes the verse is playful, as well: “A gust of air / up my pleated skirt. / Talk about the way to flirt!” All in all, this book is a triumph and will be a big hit with readers who are obsessed with Marilyn Monroe trivia and those just getting to know her and her complicated life.
To whom would you recommend this book? Students who like novels in verse or books that delve into historical figures will like this one.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
Who should buy this book? All high school libraries
Where would you shelve it? Novel in verse
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA
Date reviewed: March 2, 2021