Laurie Carlson's Reviews > Ragdoll Redeemed Growing up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe

Ragdoll Redeemed Growing up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe by Dawn Novotny
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5 Stars and then MORE!!!!
I am going to apologize for the length of this review, but this book really hit me! It is an AMAZING story about an AMAZING woman! Dawn Novotny, NOT a 'made-into' Marilyn Monroe!
Most of my Followers know I don't particularly like to read Memoirs NOR 'rate a memoir' because I feel "I" cannot "rate" another person's life. Well, let me tell you this book is a MUST-READ, MUST-HAVE, MUST-EVERYTHING! WOW, book! When I was asked if I would review this book, I immediately said yes because the information about the book, and someone living through what was described to me was at the very least, intriguing. I 'had' to read this story. This story is sadly and unbelievably TRUE, but has an AMAZING outcome! Yes, I use the word, amazing, quite a bit, but it truly is.
In "Ragdoll Redeemed, Growing Up in the Shadows of Marilyn Monroe", is a book that will surely open your eyes to a world you may NEVER knew existed, or thought you knew, but NEVER to this extent. Nor would you EVER expect a person like the late Joe DiMaggio Jr., to be the type of person to turned out to be who he really was. Wow! Here it is 'in print' about the life of Dawn Novotny and her ability to overcome obstacles I never could have imagined.
This author has gone through things in her life that we ONLY see 'in the movies', or in a book that is fiction, and for a "short time". This was Dawn's entire life, from infancy, and well into her adulthood, truer than true.
Dawn Novotny has written a memoir of her life, a life that is truly unimaginable to most people, like myself, until I read it. Wow! I have to say she does have a knack for writing! Her writing flows beautifully and although the subject matter is at times rancid, she keeps you glued to the page in awe of what she has lived through. Again, even though the subject matter is very abusive, sickening, and more, her writing is amazing. She truly has a talent for writing, and I hope to see her write more in other genres, of course!
About the book, the abuse done to Dawn started immediately from birth. Her mother was dirt poor, and their disabled Grandmother lived with them, and she, at times, was Dawn's saving grace, believe it or not! From dumpster diving for food, (an occasionally finding a ragdoll or two that could be cleaned up), to having to kill chickens in order to eat dinner, to sexual abuse from every man she came into contact with just about, beginning with her mother's boyfriend's or many husband's, even from the men in the dumpy neighborhood she lived in as a child. This story is so intriguing because it is almost unbelievable, but it is the God's honest truth of what she lived through. Yes, there were some parts of this book I just could NOT read because it was so sickening. HOW a person could do such things to a CHILD, or to anyone, for that matter, I do not know, NOR can I understand it. The part that got me was that 'no one' intervenes for her, and as a matter of fact, she is blamed for these occurrences rather than grabbed up and protected like she should have been. I just wanted to reach out and grab this little girl and hug her! I wanted to take her away from all of this, but it is a story. A true story, and so real. This gets Dawn into a cycle of self-belief, too, that she carries with her into adulthood, as well, of, 'it's her fault', 'she brought it on'. I got very emotionally invested into this book. I will never forget this book, nor how Dawn eventually gets OUT of this cycle! This is the BEST PART!
So her life continues on into her teenage years, and all through the rest of her life. What really caught my attention about this book was her marriage to Joe DiMaggio Jr. at the age of 17! After he mother found out that the boy/man she was dating was Joe DiMaggio's 'son', she was beside herself! I think she saw a big ticket out of their poverty. This got Dawn pushed to not even graduate High School, but to marry Joey. Thankfully, Dawn knew she wanted to graduate school first, and did put her foot down. After graduation, she was married off into the DiMaggio Dynasty, and it was not what she thought marriage would be like by far! She didn't even fit into this class of people. Dinner parties, restaurants, and other social engagements came and Dawn did not even know how to use a napkin the proper way, let alone know how to use the rows of silverware lined up next to her plate. The first few days of marriage to Joe DiMaggio Jr she learned that he turned out to be an abusive man just like all the other men Dawn had come across or knew. She just could not stop this cycle. This made her turn to alcohol, drugs, or anything to numb her pain, which is so understandable given her circumstances. Life continues on, Joe files for divorce, but the divorce takes forever; years. Divorce, at that time, required a reason. DiMaggio held that over Dawn's head for years. Joey was infatuated with his step-mother, Marilyn Monroe, and wanted Dawn to be the spitten image. He wanted her to look, to dress and to act just like her. Ugh! The book delves deeper into that dysfunction as well.
Years after her divorce, and a few other failed marriages, failed relationships, and what she felt was a failed life, something happened and she started to change. Through a LOT of hard work, therapy, schooling, and more, you can see how she learned to teach herself to overcome ALL of the abuse, the adversity, the negativity and more! Today, she SMILES! She is optimistic, funny, and HAPPY! You would NEVER know what she has been through when you talk to her! In her Author photo, you see she is grinning from ear to ear, and I find this AMAZING! This IS Dawn's life written for the world to see. Yes, this book is Non-Fiction, a Memoir, but it is a memoir unlike any other Memoir you have ever read. Everything she lived through is written in a way that you become obsessed into reading it. It takes you time to read this book, even if it is only 177 pages long, and seems short. It is not. There is so much in this story that you cannot just fly through. You end up reading this book slower to take all of it in. You want to know what happens next, how did she make it through these different things that happened, HOW could no one help her? HOW could this all be possible? I think I now understand WHY the school systems teach children at a young age about 'good touch vs bad touch', and other things children may need to know because of things like this. Children NEED to be taught because they do not know what is or is not right if no one teaches them, such as in Dawn's case. Otherwise, they could go on living just like Dawn lived for most of her life. I truly pray no other person has to live like this ever.
I also learned from this book that no matter 'where' you are in life, if you are homeless, in a Women's Shelter, living with your parents, or on your own with children, life CAN be changed for the POSITIVE! It just takes the realization that it NEEDS to be done, a LOT of work and help to rise above, but it CAN be done! This book takes us from the deepest depths of dark negativity to the bright and shining days of today! Today Dawn has a husband and family, and is thriving!
All in all, though, Dawn is the wonderful person she is today because of what she went through. Why some people end up having to go through such torment at times, I do not know why, but, if a person can make it through and come out like she has, what an accomplishment! I say CONGRATULATIONS!!!
I received this book for FREE from "WOW" - Women on Writing and the Author, Dawn Novotny, through their Book Reviewers Program in exchange to read this book and write a review about it. It is NOT required for this review to be either positive or negative, but, of my own honest opinion. “Free” means I was NOT provided with ANY MONIES to read this book nor to write this review, but to enjoy the pure pleasure of reading it. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255,
Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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