Beauty Mark: a verse novel of Marilyn Monroe

Carole Boston Weatherford

Candlewick Press

September 2020

$34.99 AU

186p hb

ISBN: 978-1536206296

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In a lavishly produced verse novel, Carole Boston Weatherford tells the life story of Norma Jeane Mortenson, who to the world was the movie star Marilyn Monroe. Growing up in poverty with an unstable mother and a father who abandoned them Norma’s life was anything but glamorous. Norma had little stability in her life after her mother abandons her to her neighbour soon after she is born, only to snatch her away a few years later. Following that she was in and out of various homes while her mother was in and out of mental hospitals. While living with her mum’s friend “Aunt Grace” Norma was told by her that she “had that special something to be a star” just like the Hollywood star, Jean Harlow. But like her other homes this did not last long and soon she was sent to an orphanage in Los Angeles where she lived for a year and a half with sixty other children, followed by various foster homes and when nine years old was sexually abused by one of her foster fathers. At 13 she had a 21-year-old boyfriend and by 15 was married to a US Merchant Marine. But this did not last long after Norma became a model and had her mother move into the family home. The novel continues, showing how Norma became Marilyn Monroe, detailing her rise to Hollywood star and its ruthless exploitation of her. It also covers her marriages to Joe DiMaggio and later Arthur Miller as well as her dependency on medication and her depression and finally to her memorable performance for J F Kennedy’s birthday shortly before her death.

Wow! This is one powerful read, and the expert way Weatherford presents this tragic story using verse brings the reader along on the journey in an intimate way. We experience with Norma the highs and lows, letdowns, and her triumphs and achievements. An outstanding verse novel for all readers 14+ which shows how despite setbacks one determined woman pursued her dreams to achieve extraordinary fame.

Stephen, Canberra

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