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The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds
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The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  2,831 ratings  ·  114 reviews

The old, converted vegetable shop where Tillie lives is more like a madhouse than a home. Tillie's mother, Beatrice, is bitter and cruel, yet desperate for her daughters' love. Her sister, Ruth, suffers epileptic fits and sneaks cigarettes every chance she gets. In the midst of chaos, Tillie struggles to keep her focus and dreams alive. Tillie -- keeper of rabbits, dreamer

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Mass Market Paperback, 109 pages
Published February 21st 1973 by Bantam Books (first published 1965)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Karen
This book shredded my very soul the first time I read it and continues to do so year after year. More misunderstood freak/effed parent and school goodness, but this one is particularly heartbreaking. Apparently I love it when books just destroy me. Ok then.
Wavegenerator
A terribly tragic play about an intellectually curious girl and her broken home and upbringing. She yearns to escape from the confinement of her small-minded and downward-spiralling family, while still being torn with love for them. One of my favorites!
Martina
I picked up Zindel's play after watching the movie adaptation. The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds as a film resonated strongly with me, so I figured I should read the play and perhaps even compare the literary work and the movie.

But after reading the play, I realized just how well Paul Newman had captured Tillie's situation and transferred it to the screen. The living conditions that border on deplorable, being just a few steps above abject poverty, living with an embittered...more
Jori Richardson
This heart wrenching story has to be my favorite play of all time.
Written from the innocent, simplistically factual view of a bright young middle-schooler, Tillie, we are introduced to a tense family scene where love and hate often blur into indistinguishable lines. The two supporting characters, her sister Ruth and her embittered mother Beatrice, are some of the strongest characters I have ever read.
This book is short, concise, and easy to get through, writing at the approximate level of a midd...more
Claudia
May 26, 2010 Claudia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Claudia by: Nick M. insisted
Such an intense little play around a single mother doing the best she can, which is not very! She doesn't understand either of her daughters, she uses emotional manipulation with everyone, and seems so broken at the end. Tillie, the Zindel alter-ego, is a spunky little girl who sees a future, starting with her mutatant marigold seeds. She's a survivor we root for. I love it when students force their books -- and plays -- on me. Thanks, Nick.
Mackenzie
My teacher assigned this book for English class and I have to say it wasn't that bad. :) This was a ..painful story, let's say. It was moving, but hard to read because of the verbal abuse of Tillie. I don't know, you'd have to read the book itself to understand.

The mother, Beatrice, astounded me. She was a tad on the crazy side.. but that made her all that much better of a character. She was more... real, maybe? This play was made better by the fact that we read it out loud and the girl reading...more
Brandon
at fifteen, i challenged the head of the theatre department of my school, telling her that if she didn't make me assistant director, i wouldn't work on the production.

i ended up as assistant costume person, a job which i didn't show up for. i also decided i wasn't one for the theatre (until college).

soon after, she left the school for mysterious reasons.

i know why.

i guess it's an okay play. i mean... an atom in the girl's palm is from the big bang after all.
Doreen
I re-read this book as I was culling my library for my annual Goodwill donation, and was struck by how much better it was on the second reading. I also appreciated the number of strong female roles: it's the kind of play it would have been easy for me to stage in high school/college, where the paucity of male actors made it difficult to choose a worthy play. A quick read, but a good one; not as good as the gushing blurbs on the back, but really quite entertaining.
Amelia
I first saw this play two years ago, and I had fallen in love with it before the second act started.

Painful to watch (or read)? Yes. Moving? Most definitely. I have read and re-read it more times than I can count, but I can still laugh and cry every time.

This isn't a cheerful story or a happy ending--it's a real life situation that tears you apart, which is probably why I love it so much.
Yvette
It was a wonderful read. Compelling, painful and hard to put down. It is amazing how Zindel makes me feel the hope and see the beauty in his environment painted with despair and filled with poison. Every character was so heartbreakingly torn by circumstances that it was impossible not to be moved. Yet through it all I sensed their resilience and it gave me strength. Really want to see the play.
Claire S
Oh, he wrote this, too.. I'd forgotten that. I can't remember if I read this, but I certainly saw the film or became totally aware of it around that late 70's time. And I was appreciative that someone captured the whole alcoholic Mom thing, and I could step out and compare similarities/differences; that daughter's coping mechanisms vs. mine, and so on. Excellent.. (from memory).
Michelle Galo
Jun 26, 2009 Michelle Galo rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michelle by: My 11th grade English teacher
Shelves: drama
A beautiful, painful drama about an embittered mother and her two daughters, one epileptic and hyperactive, the other quietly brilliant. Ruth flutters blithely from one obsession to another, Tillie's thoughtfulness and flare for science offer her a bright future, while their mother's rage and instability threaten to tear all three of them apart.
Lisa Vegan
Dec 07, 2007 Lisa Vegan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young adults & adults, especially girls & women, everybody really
Shelves: plays, reviewed, fiction
This play is so powerful, devastating and uplifting both. It’s a painful but wonderful story about a bright child’s ability to surmount her circumstances; her sister and mother are not able to do so. Some very unpleasant (verbal) child abuse depicted. Terrific use of symbolism. This is one that really got to me emotionally.
Jason
Although this play seems a little dated, I still enjoyed reading it. I'd be curious to see a production of it like Zindel describes in his foreword to this edition. The psychotic mother and epileptic sister seem almost unbelievable, but Zindel based this play on his own life experience. Incredible!
Nima
In Intermediate School, I played Janice Vickery, and read this over and over and over again. This is not your typical Paul Zindel, as it's probably the most dramatic, I've ever seen him write,but, the story remains a timeless classic coming of age story, that is a must read.
Sandra Strange
I need to reread this tale to see if it translates from 1970 to today. A girl struggles to raise herself out of a stifling family environment--through a science fair project that symbolically reflects her very struggle! Positive.
Gypsysoul_
This is one of my absolute favorite plays. Yes, it's dark, depressing, but the story is almost like a tiny glimmer of dew on a marigold. I can only hope that one day I can either be in this show, or direct it. A bucket list for sure.
Lorma Doone
A wonderful, heart-breaking play about hope. Hope for the future. It also makes you really appreciate your parents, cuz the bitch in this one is cray-cray. I wish I could see REP's production of this and take my mom.
Amanda
I remember reading this book in high school and hating it. One of my least favorite books ever!
Molly
This brought me back to when I was applying to LaGuardia High School and I needed to memorize a dramatic monologue for my audition. This play has its own history in my family, and I am so happy I was able to read the whole play from my perspective today as a 17 year old. I memorized the monologue by Tillie, also known as Matilda, when she is passionately describing the beauty of life and atoms. This is a play with only two acts, and it is a beautiful piece. My grandmother actually played the mot...more
Christian Engler
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds is a cute, catchy title. But the drama is anything but cute. It is a sensitively written play in a natural uncluttered style; the theme, plot and dialogue are not imbued with self-righteous, long-winded, cliched morality excesses.
The play revolves around three characters: 1) Beatrice Hunsdorfer, a bitter and acerbic woman 2) Ruth, her daughter, selfish and at times fractious and 3) Tille, another daughter, bright, responsible, a young girl wi...more
Isaac
While well written, it was highly predictable, another cynical portrait of the under class, and the glimmer of hope asked for by Tillie does not raise this dreary play to any where near inspirational. I would like just one portrayal of a strong single mother, but alas Mr. Zindel delivers another alcohol addled passive aggressive mother figure, destroying her children because of her own selfish neuroses. Whoopi Goldberg raised herself and her little girl out of poverty, why don't they write a pla...more
Jada Codispot
In the book The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, Tillie, the 10 year old main character is motivated by her brains and her love of science. Tillie could not make it through the day without her pet bunny and her schoolwork. Throughout the story, she realizes a major difference in her family life and academic achievements. She lives through family problems, and withstands many ordeals. She learns to live with child abuse and also learns how to cope with tragedy. Tillie's pet bu...more
Richard
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Makayla
I was fourteen when I first met Tillie. She is now still a huge part of me. I got the chance to play her in a production my Freshman year and we were selected to perform at the All State Festival. Zindel tells his own story in. Way that pierced my soul. I think Tillie will always be a part of who I am today. This play is honest and beautifully heartbreaking.
Kourosh
بسيار شبيه به "باغ وحش شيشه اي" تنسي ويليامز، اما دوست داشتني تر. با آنكه تيلي بخش اعظم نمايش را به دوش مي كشد، اما بئاتريس شخصيتي ست پررنگ تر، شخصيتي كه مشابهش را مي توانيم در پيرامونمان به وفور پيدا كنيم.
بسيار روان نوشته شده و زمين گذاشتنش سخت است، اما كمابيش به كليشه ها نيز ساييده مي شود و به سطح يك نمايشنامه عالي نمي رسد.
Kaylynn
I had to act as Ruth for the play adaptation, and when you act out a story, you either get into it or not. The acting was fun, but the story is really all over the place.
Emmy
Mesmerizing sad, and yet hopeful, I truly enjoyed reading this play. I think this is a great one to pick up on an overcast, dreary fall day.
Donna
Zindel's legendary work is brilliant, but not for the feint of heart. I came across it in high school, because I was on the speech team, and this particular work is rife with short passages to be be interpreted aloud in competition. It was not till I left high school that I actually had time to read it, short though it is, from beginning to end. Maybe it is just as well.

If you regard your family as dysfunctional, read this, and you will (probably) feel oh, so much better. And yet, through all t...more
Erin
I was required to read this play in Language Arts class when I was a middle school student, and I just re-read it this week as I am preparing to coach the Academic Superbowl team at the middle school where I now teach.

While I might describe the storyline as powerful and thought-provoking, I would not say that I enjoyed it (then or now). It is a depressing tale, in which the young protagonist, Tillie, is at the mercy of her seemingly-deranged mother and manipulative older sister.

Not my cup of tea...more
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Paul Zindel was an American author, playwright and educator.

In 1964, he wrote The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, his first and most successful play. The play ran off-Broadway in 1970, and on Broadway in 1971. It won the 1971 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It was also made into a 1972 movie by 20th Century Fox. Charlotte Zolotow, then a vice-president at Harper & Row (now Harper-...more
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