Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose: Gillian McCain Legs McNeil

Rating: 5/10
Series: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult Non-Fiction
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Page Count: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

Check out the Dear Nobody website for the trailer and actual scans of Mary Rose's diary.

Goodreads Synopsis: Go Ask Alice was a hoax. But Dear Nobody is a true teen diary so raw and so edgy its authenticity rings off every page

"I am a freak."The words and drawings of Mary Rose present a gritty, powerful, no-holds-barred true experience of a teen girl so desperate to be loved, so eager to fit in that she'll go to extremes that could cost her her life.This is not a story about addiction. Or sexual promiscuity. Or cystic fibrosis. It's the story of a young woman with a powerful will to live, who more than anything wants to be heard...and loved.This compelling, emotional account ensures her voice will not be forgotten

*I received this book from Netgalley for review purposes which does not in the slightest affect my honest review of the book*
*I am sincerely sorry to my street team for not posting this review earlier, I had personal/school matters that needed to be prioritized first, which is why I was unable previously to post this review*

My Initial Thoughts: One word -WOW. This book could go down in history. This book could make it onto the 'banned books' list. This book could do a lot of things, and impact modern society, in terms of subject matter and writing style. My first point is that this book is not for the faint of heart, and not for people that can't bare to hear about the 'tough stuff' which covers a wide array of topics from rape, underage drinking, abuse, drugs, depression, illness, and more. The whole nine yards are in this novel, all Mary Rose needed to do was add gun control, abortion, religion, and LGBTQ+ to make her story contain every single controversial topic nowadays. 

I can just picture my language arts teacher (any many others across the country) beating the story to death with interpretations, discussions, essays, and everything else this story evokes/has the potential to evoke. Personally, I think that it shouldn't. Dear Nobody is so rich, and sometimes overbearing to the senses. Readers should really sit down for four hours and finish the book cover to cover in order to let all of the emotions soak in and impact them. 

One of my issues is that I started this book with the expectation that it would be THE next contemporary young adult novel. What does that mean to me? Well, it means there are meaningful quotes I could write whole discussions on, and there would be passages/phrases that unearthed the whole character to myself, so that I sympathized with them, and truly got to know them. I know I am saying what a majority of the readers have said -This book is gritty. A classic contemporary novel in Sofiaworld has a cookie-cutter beginning, middle, and end, and -while subjects may be depicted in a gory and/or graphic manner- pretty. 

Most diaries are written in diary-form, but they still have the classic exposition, rising, action, climax, falling action, resolution, etc. The format might be different and at times, unconventional, but it would still tell a coherent story. Instead, Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose is just that, the true diary of hers. The handy little disclaimer in the beginning of the book states that not a single word was changed, everything is directly from her. There is no introductory, "My name is Mary Rose. I am 16 years old. I live in...." kind of passage. While it was arranged so that readers would get a general idea of who she is in the beginning, this book is still not of the normal variety by any means. 

Everything is EXACTLY as she wrote it. Every last cuss word, gruesome description, and more was directly from her mouth. The reason this praise is considered "raw and gritty" is because there are some pretty 'hush, hush' topics discussed that don't normally debut in a young adult novel. I'm not just saying that there is a topic like sex that is graphically described. I am saying that this girl, Mary Rose's inner soul was unsheathed in this book. 

And that is what might trip readers up.

I personally did not like this book as much as I thought I would. The structure and order of events tripped me up. I'm all for authors trying to be unique, but that's just it, authors make up these events and stories. Even if they are 'based on a true story' the author still has the freedom to guess what it's like inside their main characters head. All Gillian McCain and Legs McNeil could do was rearrange the order of entries, and choose to exclude certain ones. I know people are sure to disagree with me, but I think a minute amount of editing might have made this story more enjoyable. There were a few jumps from chapter to chapter that felt like someone had just gotten up and walked away that made it very  perplexing at times. Even if there was a single entry written by McCain or McNeil, it might have impacted the story. Mary Rose did not write this for other people's eyes. She did not write this to make sense. She did not write this to make herself likable or relatable. She wrote this to tell the truth.

I would also like to add that a reader, such as myself a few years ago at a younger, more innocent stage, would be horrified and shocked at Dear Nobody. Booze is being drank, and drugs are being done practically more than dialogue is being said. Mary Rose is drinking and getting high so much, that if this wasn't a true story, and I felt sympathy for her, I would say the author was terrible for putting in so much substance abuse. I know I sound malicious for saying this, but I am extremely surprised she hadn't killed herself before with the amount of alcohol and drugs -that I hadn't even previously heard of- that she had consumed. 

Then there's the cystic fibrosis act to the story that makes your sympathy for her dip down even lower. Being sick and in the hospital has become such a normal experience for her, and she even says how people got tired of hearing she was there, and it had become a daily part of their lives similar to going to dance class or playing in the park. 

Next, there was the romantic aspect to think of. I can hardly remember how many guys she thought she was "in love" with, who she thought was "cute", and wanted to make out with or date. 

Then, there was the fact she was raped multiple times, which is horrible in and of itself, but she got so high, and passed out so much, that it made it (I hate to say this) easy for people to do it. 

Lastly (and I know there is probably more I am forgetting), there was the fact that her mother was staying in an abusive relationship. Both Mary Rose and her mom got beat on a daily basis by her mom's (lets be honest here) good for nothing boyfriend that she even intended to marry. 

There is just issue after issue here that all made up Mary Rose's life that had truly become hell. On the outside, people will probably look at her, feel sorry, then try to pin the blame on someone.  Instead, we get to see how none of if=t was her fault, and merely a defense mechanism, although not the best one.

Because of all of this, I did not like Dear Nobody that much if you are judging a book by it's plot and characters. If you are judging by subject matter and premise only, it would get the full 5 stars. I know that the two star rating might be off-putting and negative, but my readers of this blog have to understand, Dear Nobody was not as easy book. "true teen diary so raw and so edgy its authenticity rings off every page" is what the synopsis says. I personally, had problems with the book in terms of structure and voice, but I hope that does not deter you from buying it. I was touched deeply, but it was still not completely to my liking. I know it seems hypocritical, and conflicting but as the same time I think it was extraordinary, wonderful, and stunning, it was also confusing, hard to follow at times, and not enough background was given. 

Conclusion: This is one messed up book that should not be read by people with a tender stomach because of the horrible events Mary Rose has to go through. My own feelings are conflicted to say the least, but this book has the ability to be stunning, breathtaking, yet horrible, and confusing simultaneously.
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