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Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
America’s Review: Mary Rose is the real deal. This is a girl who starts writing her thoughts and feelings in a diary with no intended audience and never with the thought it would turn into a book. Gillian McCain and Legs McNeil took the words of a 15-year-old girl and created a heart-ripping, tear-jerking, compelling story in Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose.
As I started reading this story, I was entrenched in the words of a young girl who was ruled by her addictions. My heart swelled as she told of her inhibitions with boys, but found Mary Rose could battle these fears as soon as the boys offered her an ounce of attention and if the boys had the ability to supply her with alcohol or drugs the fears dissipated altogether. Mary Rose did not, through the 336 pages, feel the guilt I thought she would have; she acts without thinking; she lives in the moment without any inhibitions and truly does what she wants. I have met teenagers like Mary Rose and reading this diary helped me further understand the strong decisions made all while completely unattached from emotion.
Unbeknownst to me, and several chapters deep in the diary, I discovered Mary Rose has Cystic Fibrosis. This disease doesn’t seem to be the reason she makes bad decisions, nor does it seem to slow her down or enable any of her life choices. She does not let the disease control her, but allows substance abuse to be the trigger in most of her decisions. She knows she needs to stop, but there are days where the pain is too much for her. I don’t know if it was the pain of her disease or the struggle of sobriety. She is brutally honest in her delivery as she never intended for any of us to read her words–even into her death her words are deliberate, raw and honest.
Mary Rose was a selfish, manipulative person as are most who suffer for addictions. They cannot see their decisions reflected in the eyes of those they love—especially when they do not feel they are loved. Mary Rose has an alcoholic mother, an abusive stepfather and a flux of friendships and not one of them offers the stability required to help her. Mary Rose made me want to slap some sense in to her while also wanting to squeeze her in the largest bear hug I could offer. Although Mary Rose is witty and often clever, there was no laughter in these pages. Her life was anything but funny, but a true story of a teenage girl with addictions.
Excerpt for Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose
In the Classroom:
When Go Ask Alice was released in 1971 the authenticity of the novel was questioned and the anonymous author was found to be its editor whereas Mary Rose is a real person with real struggles. Upon its original release this book can be found in the Nonfiction section—not in the YA section. This settles a plethora of questions about the depth and material found within its pages. It is a wonderful book for your school counselor to read and digest. Students fall into addictions without anyone being the wiser about the who and why. Mary Rose was a master at deception and manipulation–as are most addicts. It doesn’t matter the age, the home life or the financial status, when a student becomes addicted they will do what is required to fulfill the void in their life.
I could offer suggestions about research papers, but this is not a story for all of your students. This is dark; this is true. Together this makes for a combination not all of your students can handle. Some of your students need to read this book to help them with a harsh reality they may also be experiencing. *Spoiler ALERT* Mary Rose dies. Her life is not sugar, spice and everything nice. Her life is one of bad decisions followed by more bad decisions. The poor girl tries to see herself as others see her, but without anyone there to offer support, love and compassion, it is hard to imagine what others envision.
Mary Rose had nobody at home to pay her attention. Mary Rose had nobody to notice when she came home, or if she didn’t. Mary Rose had nobody to encourage her to do good in school to succeed. Mary Rose had nobody.
Who in your classroom thinks they are a nobody and what are you doing to change this mentality?