Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Talk-Funny Girl” as Want to Read:
The Talk-Funny Girl
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Talk-Funny Girl

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  2,688 ratings  ·  422 reviews
In one of the poorest parts of rural New Hampshire, teenage girls have been disappearing, snatched from back country roads, never to be seen alive again.  For seventeen-year-old Marjorie Richards, the fear raised by these abductions is the backdrop to what she lives with in her own home, every day.  Marjorie has been raised by parents so intentionally isolated from normal ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 5th 2011 by Crown
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Talk-Funny Girl, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
BeckBe My local library has it cataloged in adult fiction; possibly because it is narrated by an adult and definitely contains some serious subject matter -…moreMy local library has it cataloged in adult fiction; possibly because it is narrated by an adult and definitely contains some serious subject matter - or maybe because Merullo's other books are all for adults.
I think this book has broad appeal, from older teens through adults.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,688 ratings  ·  422 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Aug 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Ron Merullo is an amazing, gifted, imaginative…. I could just go on and on…. storyteller. Talk Funny Girl is one of the most compulsive reads I have come across in a long time. Marjorie’s story is not a pretty or pleasant one. She has spent seventeen years living in a shack in the woods, speaking a dialect peculiar to her family, being raised by a psychotic mother and a slow and damaged father. Calling themselves Christian, these parents, with the blessing of the pastor of their small fundamenta ...more
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: chick-lit
My review is more of a PSA than a book review! ;) As a social worker, The Talk-Funny Girl broke my heart because of the truth and reality of the story. It may be slated as fiction, and the author states in the very beginning that it is strictly fiction, but I guarantee there are girls out there who can tell this same tale of their real life even today, in 2012. I never caught the time period of storyline but it is still a sad fact that adults ignore these types of signs in our neighborhoods, sch ...more
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My favorite read of the year!!! Five stars plus some exclamation points!!! Such straightforward language this author used--beautiful and spare, in direct contrast with the dialogue of Majie/Laney and her parents. Such a vulnerable yet strong main character! Although our experience of abuse was different, our emotional journeys were so similar! I identified with Majie/Laney completely. This might seem like a morbid thing to say, but if you ever wonder what it's like to be abused--because you want ...more
Feb 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
A haunting and beautifully written novel about a young woman who strives to escape the isolation, poverty and ignorance of her parents' world in rural New Hampshire. I just couldn't stop thinking about this book. The main character and narrator is teased at school for talking funny--she talks with the strange grammar and syntax of her isolated parents. The poverty and lonliness of the family is pitiful. However, the parents are cruel and influenced by a religion that calls for severe punishment ...more
Jan 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is an inspiring, uplifting and sadly, very believable novel. I found my eyes filling with tears and my stomach tightening as I willed the seventeen year old girl at the centre of this story to find her way through the pain and dysfunction of her life and come out stronger on the other side.
This is the story of Majie, only child of parents who are basically illiterate and caught up in a bizarre church (cult) where the infliction of humiliating punishments on children is demanded. All punish
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A powerful story. Emotional. At times very hard to read for the violent home life of Majorie (Majie) Richards, the lovely, smart, observant and kind seventeen year old lead of The Talk Funny Girl.

Majie lives a desperate life. Her family is improvised and barely surviving in the the back woods of New Hampshire. Her father is a simpleminded, angry, zealot who believes “life is made up of nothing but disappointment and insult” to be met by lashing out and delivering “penances." Majie's mother is a
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This just got better and better with every page. Overall it was the story of overcoming abuse and the isolation and fear it brings, told without becoming piteous or, on the other hand, too upbeat. The characters and their relationships were so well drawn, even as aberrant as some of them were, they were wholly believable. I won't even hint at the best part because I don't want to spoil it.
Sep 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
To praise Roland Merullo's recent novel THE TALK FUNNY GIRL as a roadmap for overcoming abuse is to miss the point that it is artful fiction. True, it is didactic, but its careful structure and magnificent use of metaphor raise Merullo's novel to the level of Dickens's HARD TIMES and Christina Stead's MAN WHO LOVED CHILDREN.

Let's start with the title. The narrator Marjorie Richards was a linguistically deprived backwoods New Hampshire girl who as an adult looks back at the turning point in her l
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If the rest of the book is anything like the prologue this is going to be amazing.

Aug 8 - And it was. I loved this novel. I've had a hard time parsing out in my mind exactly why and though I gave it some thought after finishing it I am still struggling to capture the essence of my thoughts and feelings in a paragraph or two. It's a coming of age story with a mystery well folded in but even more than that,I shall attempt to figure it out the "more than that" as I write.

I was hooked at the prologu
Chris Witkowski
Jan 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Set in rural New Hampshire, this novel tells the story of seventeen year old Marjorie Richards, a young woman with bizarre speech patterns who has endured unspeakable abuse at the hands of her parents. At the beginning of the novel Marjorie is commanded by her father to find "full pay work" or else suffer some form of severe punishment. In the course of a few days, through clever scheming worked out between her aunt and an unusual young man, Marjorie has a job helping to build a stone cathedral. ...more
Aug 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: notable
This book changed the way I think about poverty and the uneducated in the same way that Orange Is the New Black changed the way I think about criminals and prisoners. OITNB, the fantastic Netflix show, showed me that criminals are human and every one of them has a story and the capacity for good. This novel, The Talk-Funny Girl, showed me that the poor and uneducated can be truly amazing people. I had assumed that most of those people were content with their lifestyle, because of shows like Buck ...more
Feb 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bookclubs
Recommended to Amy by: co-worker
Shelves: 2013
A great bookclub choice.

A young woman, subject to isolation and religious fervor is abused and manipulated... As she turns 17 her life begins to change, and she begins to see that there is a world outside what she knows, that hope may actually be something she can do, that maybe her life isn't destined to be punishments and worthlessness and poverty.

Im not sure how Roland Merullo got the internal thoughts of a traumatized young woman so accurate. As a survivor of childhood abuse (of a different
Krista Stevens
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fascinating, powerful, and odd, this novel tells the survival story of 17 year old Marjorie who is being raised by her isolated, mentally ill, and eccentric parents in the poorest part of New Hampshire. The horror her parents subject her to and how she justifies and then rejects their beliefs is powerful. I might even have given this a 5 (it takes a talented writer to make the reader continually hope that the parents will redeem themselves because they too have something in them that is likeable ...more
Feb 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
I loved this story. I read it in just one is so easy to read. Amazing how a male author can get into the psyche of a 17-year-old girl and make you believe in her story. This author hits on so many angles of the human psyche - why people do what they do when it appears to the outside world not to be of benefit to them, the mental scars left from abuse (sexual, mental, physical), the anguish of giving up a child (from the angle of the parent and the angle of the child), the power of a c ...more
Mar 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have enjoyed this author's other books. I find it unusual for a male author to get women characters and write them so well. This one won't disappoint. His topic on cult's and related emotional abuse of mentally unstable parents and how one girl becomes the miracle in this story makes this one of the most resonating novels I have read this year. Merullo has a very simple way of laying out a story that usually stays with me long after the last page.

The Talk-Funny Girl
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
This was an interesting read: powerful, affecting, and more than a little odd.

The book's about 17-year-old Marjorie, who's looking to find work because her parents have decided a "full pay" job is necessary from her. She finally finds work with a gentle, young man in his 20s whose dream is to construct a beautiful cathedral in town. (While Marjorie is working and going to school, her mother sits around and smokes, while her father putters around the woods and collects permanent disability) Her p
Wendy Hines
Jul 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Wow. The Talk-Funny Girl is next to impossible to put down once you open to the first page. Marjorie Richards doesn't realize she's different until the authorities make her attend school when she is nine. The other kids call her the Talk-Funny Girl because her dialect is one that her own family created. She hales from the wilderness in New Hampshire, and she lives in a ramshackle shack with her parents.

They are dirt poor and neither of her parents work. They belong to a church that believes in d
Steve Auerweck
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
At 17, Marjorie's future is bleak. She lives with her uneducated, abusive parents in an isolated shack in New Hampshire. They are all part of a small sect that meets in a Quonset hut and follows the word of a far-right, racist, fundamentalist preacher. And the family talks in a convoluted dialect that may owe its roots, distantly, to French Canadian.

Fortunately, Marjorie hasn't run out of hope, and there's an aunt who's on her side. We follow as she tells her tale of finding an unusual job and w
Jasmine Cardenas
Aug 20, 2013 rated it liked it
The story The Talk-Funny Girl by Roland Merullo is based on a story of Marjorie Richards who lives in the poorest area of New Hampshire. There have been teenage girl abductions around her neighborhood but that's no concern for parents. Seventeen-year-old Marjorie is forced to get a full time job because she needs to help maintain her parents financial needs. As the story goes on Marjorie gets picked on because she "talks funny". Her parents are ignorant about school and they don't think that lea ...more
Mar 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Merullo's novels are like a bowl of butter-topped mashed potatoes on a cold winter night: comforting themes but with the surprising chunks of originality, toothsome characters as human as you are, and a generous sprinkling of spirituality that adds an earthy note to what is otherwise familiar and rich. "The Talk-Funny Girl" is a strong story of childhood pain transformed into adult redemption and it will draw you in quickly and keep you reading because you want the whole story, you care about Ma ...more
Nov 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
While parts of it were difficult to read, once I began this book, I could not put it down. Not only did it draw my attention to a subject I hadn't much thought about before, poverty in the northeastern United States, but the language and writing were beautiful. There was something about the style of the writing that made it even more pleasurable to read. It seemed unique somehow. Furthermore, I wanted to see how Marjorie came out of it in the end. I wouldn't call it a happy ending, but it was sa ...more
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The further I got into this novel the better I liked it. I stayed up late to finish the last fifty pages.

I think I identified with the rural setting at some points, the character Sands at others. Its a story of a young woman's coming of age in rural new Hampshire, but it's much more than that. It encompasses the range of challenges she faces, and touches on discrimination due to class, accent, race, gender, and sexual orientation; the sad cycles of abuse within a family; overcoming self-doubt; a
May 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Raised in the north woods, cut off from most what most people consider the "civilized world", 17-year old Majie finds the beginnings of adulthood offering her a choice between the twisted past of her youth and the uncertain future offered by the kindness of others. I didn't realized how tense the story was making me until I finished the book -- the entire narrative is laced with a foreboding of something really tragic about to happen and the ending left me realizing that the tragedy had unfolded ...more
Mar 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
I experienced such a wide range of emotions as a reader throughout this book. Merullo is excellent at pulling the reader into Marjorie's sorrowful and sheltered world. The other characters are etched out in rich, life-like tones that make the reader feel as though he or she could reach through the pages and respond to the atrocities of Marjorie's upbringing. This tale is equally heart-breaking and heart-warming. I really enjoyed experiencing a life completely different from most other literary c ...more
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novel, 2017
A dark and at times frightening story, but so compelling I read it almost all in one sitting. Merullo is one of the very best story tellers and this book is one in his string of hits.
Laura Anderson
Mar 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fictional but written like a memoir, this story smacks of reality and with all my heart I wish it was. Not because of the horrors that go on in Marjorie's house, but because she escapes.

We know from the beginning that she escapes- it's written in the style of a memoir, after all- but the joy (and the heartbreak and the inspiration) is in the journey. It's a journey of broken people doing broken things but also broken people doing all they can to fix and be fixed.

Marjorie is an inspiration. Her d
Sep 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Majie Richards (MAY-gee REE-shard) is being raised in a shack in the deep woods of New Hampshire by ignorant, isolationist and abusive parents. She didn’t go to school until someone reported the truancy to the authorities when she reached the age of 9. By then the back woods English dialect she spoke was so engrained that her language and learning skills appeared irredeemable, and she was shunted into low level classes despite her true intellect. At the age of 17 Majie is forced to seek work in ...more
Mar 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. The characters were so interesting but completely believable -- not stereotypes. Merullo is an amazing writer and I am excited that I just picked up another book by him, "Breakfast with Buddha" which I will begin this weekend. In The Talk-Funny Girl (not such a great title), the main character is complex, interesting, likeable -- you want to enter her world and befriend her. The characters are real in the sense that they are never "all evil" or "all good" but that true ...more
I received this book through the first-reads program.

This is not a book that I ever would have picked up to read. The premise is that a seventeen year old girl, living with her abusive parents in the backwoods of New Hampshire, is trying to live her life. The subject of abuse is extremely heavy, the subject of poverty is heavy as well. The book is dark - extremely dark. The book is also incredible.

The heavy topics are dealt with deftly and unflinchingly. The language of the book, both the broken
Apr 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Talk-Funny Girl was incredibly, mind-blowingly, exceedingly superb. I can't find an adjective strong enough to express how much I loved this book. It blows books like Speak and even Hate List out of the water. The characters were pretty well developed, and the plot was on the slower side but very smooth and realistic.

I have to say a big THANK YOU to Merullo for not writing the whole book in Marjorie's dialect, because that would be way too hard to read; I had enough trouble with The Knife of
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  •  The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens
  • Big Girl Small
  • In Zanesville
  • Caring Is Creepy
  • Blind Sight
  • Music Was IT: Young Leonard Bernstein
  • The Freak Observer
  • Juvenile In Justice
  • Tripping
  • Pavement Chalk Artist: The Three-Dimensional Drawings of Julian Beever
  • If Jack's in Love
  • Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way)
  • Young Fredle (Davis Farm, #2)
  • Minding Ben
  • The Returning
  • Thor the Mighty Avenger, Vol. 2
  • The House of Tomorrow
  • Journal of a UFO Investigator
See similar books…
ROLAND MERULLO is the acclaimed author of twelve previous books, including Revere Beach Boulevard, In Revere in Those Days, A Little Love Story, Golfing with God, Breakfast with Buddha, Lunch with Buddha and American Savior. Merullo has won numerous prizes, including the Massachusetts Book Award for both fiction and nonfiction. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two children.
“Some people use their own hurt as an excuse for hurting others” 93 likes
“You have to take a little time to appreciate being alive and breathing instead of wondering what you have to do next all the time. You have to stop and do nothing for a little while every day.” 5 likes
More quotes…