Sunday, April 6, 2014

Review of Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose

         Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose, edited by Gillian McCain and Legs McNeil.  Sourcebooks/Fire, 2013.



“Tonight I got arrested.”  This is the first sentence of journals kept by Mary Rose, a young teenage girl who is fighting addiction to drugs and alcohol.  She has a tragic home life; her father left Mary Rose and her mother when she was very young.  Her mother always seems to choose boyfriends over Mary Rose and her sister.  Her mother’s boyfriends are both physically and mentally abusive.   By the age of fifteen, Mary Rose is an addict, has experienced sex, and has been gang-raped.  Her loneliness leads to boredom, bad hygiene, drugs, and alcohol.

Mary Rose longs for friendship, love, and acceptance, but she continuously chooses the wrong kind of people to befriend.  She is in and out of rehab clinics and hospitals; she reveals later in her journals that she has cystic fibrosis.  Many of the children she has known through in hospitals have died; the life expectancy of CF patients is only thirty-two years of age, and that is for someone who has taken care of himself.

So Mary Rose lives her life on the edge, trying to experience everything she can as fast as possible because she doesn’t know how long she will be around.   She writes to Nobody since no one will ever read what she has written, or so she believes.

Mary Rose’s journals were found after her death in her bedroom closet by her friend and given to the editors.  They actually did no editing per se, only cut out some of the entries.  Because Mary Rose died as a minor,  her mom had to go to court to have her father removed from Mary Rose’s estate; he would not give permission for the diary entries to be published.  After he left Mary Rose and her mother, he did not pay one penny in child support, and the editors did not think he should benefit from any of the proceeds of the book.

Mary Rose’s writing takes place over a course of about three years and is brutally honest; even though she had to drop out of school in second grade due to her illness, she was a brilliant writer.  In her diary, she talks of despair, guilt, loneliness, and the physical pain of cystic fibrosis.  She dreamed of being an rich actress or a famous writer but knew, in her heart, that she wouldn’t live long enough.  She had seen friends as young as eleven pass away and had looked death in the face several times before she finally succumbed to complications due to CF in 1999.

I recommend this book with caution for high school and public libraries.  It contains profanity, underage drinking, drug abuse, and many sexual situations.  Readers who enjoy books by Ellen Hopkins or read Go Ask Alice will devour this book.  Thank you to Sourcebooks/Fire which allowed me to read and review this book.  I give it three out of five fleur de lis!