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The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds: A Drama in Two Acts

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,795 Ratings  ·  147 Reviews
For use in schools and libraries only. This acclaimed play focuses on an eccentric, embittered woman and her relationship with her two daughters.
Hardcover, 98 pages
Published April 1st 2005 by Turtleback Books (first published 1965)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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.
Jul 12, 2007 Wavegenerator rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Dec 19, 2014 Martina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
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
Jan 16, 2016 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always wanted to read this play because of the title -it's a great title. One of the worst mothers in all of literary history and one of the most hopeful, sweet protagonists. I would dearly love to adopt Tillie right out of the book and bring her home with me.
May 26, 2010 Claudia rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Nov 24, 2015 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had been on my bookshelves for several years prior to my picking it up a few days ago. I'm not quite sure how it arrived there, although I think I may have acquired it for free at a book giveaway at my alma mater's library. To be completely transparent, I was simply looking for a quick book to read and noticed that this one was short and appeared relatively interesting, so I grabbed it and flipped through it to find out it was actually a short play, and also found the text to be quite ...more
Mika Chen
May 09, 2015 Mika Chen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was great because it has lots of part teenager may find it interesting. I read it because of my english teacher, i am Ruth in the book. And its an act, and i really recommend people who likes to read an act to read this.
Jul 29, 2016 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-plays
An interesting, quirky, and devastating play. I found myself emotionally connecting to each of the characters: the daughter who experiences extreme panic disorder, the younger less-paid-attention-to nerd daughter, the scared, possibly self loathing mother, and even the awkward Janice from the science fair (although, spoiler alert, I would never, as Janice did, boil a cat.) I am not sure yet what to make of this crazy play and the messages on it. Tillie's science fair project seemingly a symbol f ...more
I didn't know anything about this book going into reading it, so I was surprised (but not at all disappointed) when I found it was a play. I think I would have enjoyed a play more than I enjoyed reading it, but what stood out to me most was the way the words managed to relay an ambiance that felt desperate, disorganized, and inspiring at the same time. The mother, Beatrice, felt almost like a caricature, but I understand from reading the author's notes that this was an autobiographical play to s ...more
Isaac Timm
Jun 22, 2008 Isaac Timm rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays, 2008
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
Dec 30, 2015 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This story hits me on a personal level. As a teacher, I've taught kids from dysfunctional families and have witnessed the uphill ongoing battle they faced. One of my students had a parent who committed suicide. Others have persevered with parents like Tillie's mother Beatrice. It's comforting to realize that many will survive and be the stronger for their experience. I can relate to Ruth's epilepsy, accurately and sympathetically conveyed by the author. I wish I had known about this book earlier ...more
Hiina Shiota
May 08, 2015 Hiina Shiota rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought that this book was very great. I really liked the characters in this book. Well, I was being Tillie, who is the main character in this book, at school. Among these characters, I liked Tillie. That was because she was smart, and she really loves Science. It was the same as me. Also, I could connect easily with the characters like Tillie. I also love Science, and had won the Science Fair before.

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
May 18, 2015 Jeannie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book's title drew me in, but when I picked it up, I immediately knew it would be a defining text in my life. I am struck by the widely accepted themes of mental illness and abuse, but more so how it captures aimless ambition. So much can be gleaned from the brief tryst that is this play.
Jan 30, 2010 Erin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, drama
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
Tillie struggles to stay quietly passionate and focused amidst the volatility of her life at home. With a sister, Ruth, who suffers from convulsions and a mother, Beatrice, who is mentally and emotionally abusive, Tillie stays true to herself and finds beauty in the world.

I like Tillie. She keeps her emotions even and steady, as if showing enthusiasm or excitement will be the spark that starts the wild fire at home. Her mother's frequent statement, "you're giving me a headache," comes when she e
Mar 04, 2016 Kat rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays, ye-gods-why, 2016
Basic Plot: Tillie deals with her odd family circumstances and winning the annual school science fair.

What. The. Fuck.

I teach English on occasion, and I teach theatre, too. I've read a lot of plays and either performed in or helped put on a good many plays. I'm sure if I were in the right frame of mind I'd be able to figure out what I just read, but honestly, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to get out of this play.

The characters are odd. The theoretical main character is Tillie (Matilda), who is
Aug 23, 2015 Sandi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the youth hostel I was staying at, I saw this slim book on a shelf, with its doe-eyed seventies girl on the cover shrouded in marigolds--and I was drawn to it. I have such a strong sense of familiarity with this play that know I’ve read or seen this one before but I entirely forget when and where--maybe I saw it as a play in the park or read it in high school when my parents would have probably lent it to me because I was in the science fair, or both.

In any case, that deja-vu let it have an
Jul 17, 2007 Brandon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 20, 2015 Jessica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I appear to be in the minority here, but this play didn't strike any emotional chords for me, other than being vaguely depressing. I get that Tillie is the embodiment of hope in the midst of dysfunction, and the symbolism of her mutated marigold seeds... but it's still essentially a bare-bones display of an abusive home, where only one character seems to have any hope of getting out alive. In the end, to me, that's just depressing — beautiful symbolism or not.
Dec 29, 2008 Doreen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 09, 2012 Darius rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For U.S. characters the play now reads very dated. It does seem, especially for long stretches at the beginning, an actor's play, and an exercise in how well/much the cast can build tension. Ultimately though, the most interesting bits were characters revealed vulnerable, and those didn't last very long. A cool framework, that maybe in the hands of powerful performers can be fulfilled by the domestic dialogue within.
Jul 19, 2015 Falina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This play manages to convey something very complex in a deceptively simple way and even though it was written in 1964 it feels totally new, totally different than things I've read before. True creativity like this is a certain brand of genius that I really admire. At the same time, I didn't finish it thinking "Yeah, this definitely deserved a Pulitzer." All the same, it was good and I'd like to see it performed.
May 08, 2010 Amelia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 12, 2013 Yvette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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).
Feb 20, 2014 Makayla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: performed
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.
Jun 26, 2009 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  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 it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young adults & adults, especially girls & women, everybody really
Shelves: fiction, reviewed, plays
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.
Aug 07, 2011 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: play
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!
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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 about Paul Zindel...

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