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Beauty Mark: A Verse Novel of Marilyn Monroe

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In a novel in verse, an award-winning author offers an eye-opening look at the life of Marilyn Monroe.

From the day she was born into a troubled home to her reigning days as a Hollywood icon, Marilyn Monroe (née Norma Jeane Mortenson) lived a life that was often defined by others. Revisiting Marilyn's often traumatic early life--foster homes, loneliness, sexual abuse, teen marriage--through a hard-won, meteoric rise to stardom that brought with it exploitation, pill dependency, and depression, the narrative continues through Marilyn's famous performance at JFK's birthday party, three months before her death.

192 pages, Hardcover

First published September 8, 2020

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About the author

Carole Boston Weatherford

88 books331 followers
Carole Boston Weatherford is a children's book author and poet who "mines the past for family stories, fading traditions, and forgotten struggles." A number of Weatherford's books tell the stories of African-American historical figures such as Harriet Tubman, Jesse Owens, and Billie Holiday. Other books recount historical events such as the Greensboro Sit-ins and the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Weatherford's books have received a wide variety of awards, including a Caldecott Honor for Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 117 reviews
Profile Image for Jessica.
569 reviews778 followers
September 3, 2020
I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Candlewick Press) in exchange for an honest review.

I’m a fairly new Marilyn Monroe fan. I’ve only seen “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and “How To Marry A Millionaire” and loved her in both of those. I was so excited to read this because I wanted to learn more about her. I knew she had a tragic life and this book dove right into it.

This novel in verse goes through Marilyn’s entire life, starting from when she was a kid to a few weeks before her death. All aspects of her life are explored, painting a stunning portrait of this complicated woman.


As for the poems themselves, some of them were amazing but some fell a little flat. A novel in verse is a little harder to write since it does tell a story, so that is forgivable.

Some of my favorite poems were:
-Stand Still (pg 2)
-From Wonderland to Oz (pg 26)
-Baby Siren (pg 56)
-Dare I Wish? Dare I Dream? (Pg 75)
-Blondes Prefer Gentle Men (pg 106)
-No Pink Tights But a Gold Band (pg 114)
-I Got Rhythm (pg 124)
-Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover (pg 128)
-Living Up to My Name (pg 136)
-No One Malady (pg 137)
-Miscarriage Blues (pg 150)
-Dogs Are a Girl’s Best Friend (pg 162)
-Secrets of Style (pg 164)
-Rx: “Vitamins” (pg 169)
-The Kennedys (pg 175)
-Who Is Marilyn Monroe? (pg 178)
-Epilogue (pg 181)

I really liked that there was a poem about how she helped Ella Fitzgerald (I Got Rhythm). I am happy that was highlighted. I also loved the whole poem dedicated to Marilyn’s love of reading (Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover). I’ve always loved that she was a bookworm. Lastly, the last poem (Epilogue) was a clever way to end the book. That poem just consisted of a series of headlines relating to Marilyn after 1962, which gave you a glimpse of her lasting legacy and mystique.

Overall, this was a fascinating take on the life of Marilyn. If you’re Marilyn fan, or just want to learn more about her, I recommend reading this book. It’s a quick read but it does leave a big impact!
Profile Image for Diana | Book of Secrets.
781 reviews571 followers
August 3, 2020
I've always been fascinated by Marilyn Monroe, a captivating icon who hid a lot of pain behind her dazzling smile. Author Carole Boston Weatherford has done a beautiful job giving Marilyn a voice to tell us her own amazing yet heartbreaking story in poems.

The novel is written mainly in first person free verse format, beginning with Marilyn's childhood, then moving through her adult life as a star, and ending just a few weeks before her death. Though this is fictional retelling of Marilyn's life, the poems are very raw and personal, like lyrical journal entries.

BEAUTY MARK gives us a poignant look at the complicated, intelligent, and troubled woman underneath the beauty. Gorgeous & heartrending. (4.5 Stars)

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers Program in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Alexander Peterhans.
Author 2 books172 followers
June 15, 2020
Beauty Mark is a collection of poems retelling the life story of Marilyn Monroe, from her harrowing youth in several foster homes and orphanages, to her transformation from Norma Jeane into Marilyn, and her descent into addiction.

It is all told in first person, mostly in free verse (the couple of instances of rhymed verse become very impactful because of this), with visually descriptive language. Overall it feels more like a stage monologue to me, but then the language of poetry and plays have always overlapped.

Of course Monroe's story is heartbreaking, more than I knew. The book is geared toward teens, but I would've never known, it never reads like it. I do think hers is an important story, about a damaged individual that tried reclaiming her life, while fighting mental health problems and spiralling addiction.

Monroe's sad end isn't directly portrayed, more implied, and finally named in a found poem epilogue based on newspaper headlines up to present day.

If I have one gripe, it's with the illustrative backgrounds on the pages - it's all a bit grey and indistinct, more visual noise than illustration.

3.5 stars

(Kindly received an ARC from Candlewick Press through NetGalley)
Profile Image for Natalie  all_books_great_and_small .
2,110 reviews75 followers
August 15, 2020
I received an advance reader copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review via netgalley and the publishers.

Beauty Mark is a superb collection of poetry depicting Marilyn Monroes life and told as from her own voice and perspective.

I thought the poetry was very in depth and dug down deep into Marilys life, experiences, youth, heartbreak, career, emotions and soul.

Marilyn had a troubled childhood moving from foster home to children's home and other homes and seeing her mother suffer from mental health problems all through her life.

This book tells how Norma Jean got through these times and her emotions through them all the way to her acting career, marriages and death.

I've always loved Marilyn Monroe and this book is a fantastic addition to my collection as well as being a great tribute to a beautiful troubled soul.
Profile Image for Katherine.
533 reviews19 followers
September 9, 2020
This turned out to be of far more substance than one may expect from a verse novel about the world's most legendary sex symbol, Marilyn Monroe--but that is in exact keeping with the truth of who she really was. Carole Boston Weatherford manages to include the entire span of Marilyn's life, from her childhood as an orphan with living parents to an ambitious young woman striving to make her own way in the world to the icon the world so idolized. And all the while, Marilyn felt no one truly knew who she was, deep down. Weatherford's poems bring Marilyn's inner turmoil to life in a beautiful and respectful way, one which diehard Marilyn fans and newbies alike can learn from and enjoy.
Profile Image for Alicia.
5,883 reviews119 followers
December 3, 2020
I could not put this down.

Could not put it down. Legitimately sat longer during my lunch to finish it because I needed to finish it. I *thought* I would just pick it up later but realized the pull was too strong and I needed to get to the end.

I don't know much about Marilyn Monroe. This felt more real than fiction-- thinking that if she went the extra step similar to Stephanie Hemphill with footnotes (for Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath, it would have made it nonfiction? I don't know because I'd rather see it circulate in nonfiction than fiction. Or at least make it 811? Literary nonfiction? But I digress.

Holy, she had a life. A HARD life. Much of this I didn't know. Wait, scratch that, none of this is anything I knew. And the lyricism of the verse creates a vivid portrait of a woman that wanted something but needed something else. Weatherford tries to pull the curtain away, chronologically detailing the mental health issues of her family, the numerous foster homes, the stardom. It was darkly magical, visceral. The book is a whole mood and I was taken with every page even without any pictures (but I did stop twice to Google the images that were referenced).

Profile Image for Richie Partington.
1,083 reviews128 followers
June 1, 2020
Richie’s Picks: BEAUTY MARK: A VERSE NOVEL OF MARILYN MONROE by Carole Boston Weatherford, Candlewick, September 2020, 192p., ISBN: 978-1-5362-0629-6

“But please don’t tread on dearest Marilyn
Cause she’s not very tough
She should have been made of iron or steel
But she was only made of flesh and blood”
-- The Kinks, “Celluloid Heroes (1972)

“Men grow cold as girls grow old
And we all lose our charms in the end
But square cut or pear shaped
These rocks don’t lose their shape
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”
-- composed by Jule Styne and Leo Robin; performed by Marilyn Monroe in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1953)

“The Meaning of Mama

Don’t call me Mama,
said Ida Bolender, my foster mother,
explaining that we were not kin.
You’re old enough to know better.
You just board here, she said,
adding that my mother would be visiting the next day.
Call her Mama if you want.

Gladys never kissed me
or held me or had much to say to me,
but I obeyed my foster mother.
Hello, Mama, I said.
Gladys just stared.
At least I knew who she was.

When I visited the rooming house
where she lived, I hid in the closet for hours.
As I lay in bed at night turning the pages of a book,
she’d say, Don’t make so much noise, Norma.
The sound made her nervous.

Mama had plenty to grieve about.
Her father and grandmother both died
in mental hospitals, and her brother
killed himself. Her unhappy childhood ended
at age fifteen when she married a man twelve years older.
She had two children by Jasper Baker
and two concussions at his hand
before coming home early from work
and catching him in bed with another woman.

None of the silent negatives she spliced
as a film cutter for a movie studio
prepared Gladys for the scene that day
or for the fallout.
After a big fight, Jasper left Gladys--
but not for good, not without the children.
Mama was so down that she didn’t see him
sneak back and kidnap her two babies.
She spent many months and all her savings
on a hunt that led to Kentucky.
She hitchhiked there.
Jasper had a new wife and a fine home.
And her children had a shot at happiness.
Mama didn’t have the heart to face them,
believing they were better off without her.
By the time I was born, she was claiming
that her two older children were dead.
She practiced the lie so often,
she may have come to believe it.”

The truth of Marilyn Monroe’s formative years is every bit as upsetting as the grittiest made-up stories in today’s YA novels. BEAUTY MARK, Carole Boston Weatherford’s revealing verse novel about the life and death of Marilyn Monroe, is a stunning tribute to the legendary American icon and a tasty teen-sized slice of American cultural history.

As the result of mental health issues suffered by Marilyn’s mother and grandmother, the future film star was lucky to survive her infancy and childhood. She never met her father. With her mother eventually institutionalized, Norma Jean Mortenson (as her birth certificate read) grew up being bounced around between foster homes, orphanages, friends, and relatives. Her first marriage at sixteen helped her escape one horrific situation, and landed her in an equally-bad one. Five years later, she was divorced and on the road to immortality.

“The camera loved me and I loved it back.
All my life, I had been an outsider, an orphan.
For the first time, I realized where I belonged
and who I belonged to: the public.”

Marilyn straightened and bleached her hair as she embarked on a modeling career and by the time she was twenty, she was working in films. A few years later in the early 1950s, she hit it big in Hollywood, but after two more marriages and a decade of stardom, she took her own life.

Why would twenty-first century adolescents be interested in this very hot, very problematic actress who hit her peak back in the Eisenhower years? I suggest encouraging them to watch one of her movies. After reading BEAUTY MARK, I certainly needed to see one of them.

I hadn’t seen any Marilyn Monroe films in nearly fifty years, back in the days when Elton John rhapsodized about her in “Candle in the Wind.” I located the 1959 black-and-white comedy “Some Like it Hot” available on demand, and fired up a batch of popcorn. It’s the film for which Marilyn won a Golden Globe, and which the American Film Institute ranks as the 14th greatest American movie of all time. My reaction? The combination of her sexiness, comedic talent, and vulnerability shine through just as strongly today as they did then.

There’s a lot of pain packed into this phenomenal, YA verse-novel biography. Thanks to this absorbing verse novel, I now see the late screen actress as far more than a legend and a pretty face.

Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.pbworks.com
Profile Image for Diana.
825 reviews93 followers
February 9, 2021
It was as if it was Marilyn Monroe herself speaking these words. It felt so in touch and personal that there were more than a few moments when I did have to remind myself that it was someone else’s work and not pages from her diary. It’s that personal touch and it’s easy flow that made it so captivating a read.

As both a classic movie and Marilyn Monroe fan I’m familiar with her story but this book telling it from her own perspective gave it so much more. Ever since her death, and most likely even before, people have talked about Marilyn Monroe, telling her story. And for once letting her (figuratively) tell it really shifts everything we do know. It gives the story and the icon more meaning to a point where we’re reminded that she was more than just an icon or sex symbol but just another girl trying to make it in the world despite everything she had to go through.
Profile Image for Sue.
782 reviews1 follower
November 6, 2020
An interesting format for a biography.. it's good to see Marilyn's smiling face on the cover as
she had to overcome such adversity.
Profile Image for Kris Patrick.
1,498 reviews72 followers
November 1, 2020
Finally! A biography for young people that does not conveniently gloss over the details. Exactly the type of book I wanted to read as a teenager.
Profile Image for Bethany Parker.
245 reviews18 followers
August 18, 2021
I used to be interested in Marilyn Monroe when I was in high school, as I was coming into my identity in relation to my feminity. I wish I would've had a book like this. I love how objective and fact-based this collection of poems is, while still being artful and intriguing. We learn about how complex Norma Jean really is, and how privilege, gender, genetics, and the way we're raised intertwine to create who we become. I also very much appreciate how this book shows younger readers the darkness that comes with being a woman in Hollywood.
Profile Image for Roni Jankord.
28 reviews1 follower
April 27, 2021
What a shame that the world only seems to know Marilyn for being beautiful... Beyond the beautiful face and rockin' body, she was a dynamic woman who had brains, ambitions, and deep wounds. While the poetry itself wasn't the most remarkable I've ever read, the content was fascinating to me.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,893 reviews352 followers
September 8, 2020
Everyone knows about Marilyn Monroe's difficult life and tragic end.

Few people know the traumatic start of her life watching her mother struggle with schizophrenia, moving through foster care, and even teen marriage.

While evidence of her transition from brunette pin-up model to blonde bombshell is immediately obvious, the road that got her there has never been explored from her own perspective. Until now in Beauty Mark: A Verse Novel of Marilyn Monroe (2020) by Carole Boston Weatherford.

Weatherford's latest verse novel explores the turbulent and often sad life of Marilyn Monroe from her start as Norma Jeane Baker to her death at 36 from an overdose. After a prologue the day of her infamous "Happy Birthday" performance for President John F. Kennedy, the poems move roughly chronologically from Monroe's early years to her death.

Because it is a verse novel and not a true biography, Beauty Mark is frustratingly lacking in concrete facts. Important figures in Monroe's life like her first acting coach, Natasha Lytess, are often referenced only to be dropped without explaining their role later in Monroe's life.

Similarly, while touching upon key points in Monroe's filmography the choices Weatherford makes in what (and whom) to mention feels largely arbitrary. River of No Return is discussed but co-star Robert Mitchum is never mentioned nor is the complex plot which includes an assault attempt--something, presumably, that would have been of note to Monroe given her own history of sexual abuse. (Lytess also created complications on set but her presence is never mentioned.)

Some Like It Hot is discussed at length with a full plot summary and, again, no mention of co-stars Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. Nor is this a choice to center Monroe in her own story as other actors (male and female) are mentioned throughout.

A life, even one as tragically short as Monroe's, covers a lot of ground. Unfortunately in Beauty Mark the authorial choices for what to cover at length (the nude calendar photo scandal in 1952) and what to gloss over (the reasons behind Monroe's constant move from one foster home to the next as a child) are never made clear either in the text or in supporting back matter.

Beauty Mark is an interesting if ultimately uneven verse novel that gives Monroe her voice and works to move her from sex object back to genuine and complex person. Recommended as an introduction but not for anyone hoping to find a true biography or in-depth life story.

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration.*
Profile Image for Carlos Silva.
144 reviews29 followers
June 25, 2020
I didn’t know much about Marilyn prior to reading this book. Anything, really, apart from her name and the well-known dress stunt. I was so surprised to see how hard her life was. Because of my ignorance, I only now came to realize that her life and career were pretty solid references for Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – which is one of my favorite books. This verse novel was absolutely beautiful. The poems were both dazzling and haunting. It was such an interesting way to structure a biography. Norma Jean (later to become Marilyn) was so cunning and driven. She wasn’t just a pretty face for people to admire. She played a façade she thought would help her get what she wanted, and succeeded beautifully at that. At a certain point in the poems, which are written as a first-person narrative, she even starts calling Marilyn as if she were someone else entirely. I grew to have so much respect for her ambition. She was so passionate about art and literature. I can only imagine how much people who have actually admired and known her for longer than I have will love this book more than I did. Absolutely genius!

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for granting me an early copy in exchange of a review!
Profile Image for Shannon.
564 reviews31 followers
December 9, 2020
Beauty Mark is a sad but honest portrayal of the life of Norma Jean Monroe, who legally changed her name to Marilyn Monroe after her superstar alter ego eclipsed her. Born to a mentally unstable mother and raised by a cast of supporting characters, orphanages, and foster families, Marilyn finds hope in people telling her that she has a face made for movies. She starts off as a model and works her way up to motion pictures. Finds and loses love. Learns how to stand on her own two feet, and not long after Happy birthday Mr. President is found dead. For a Hollywood heartthrob, her real life was quite sad and tragic which really makes me feel for her in all of the ways.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Patti Sabik.
1,222 reviews4 followers
June 3, 2020
Wow! I really enjoyed this fictional, but based in fact, verse novel of Marilyn Monroe’s life. It was a quick morning’s read, but I kept jumping to google to search for a mentioned picture or another actor/actress to get more information. The book made me want to watch some of Monroe’s films, some for the first time and other old favorites. Weatherford does a wonderful job building empathy for her protagonist beyond just the Hollywood icon.
Profile Image for Kyle.
195 reviews4 followers
June 14, 2020
Not since Elton John's song has there been such a poignant retelling of Marilyn Monroe's life story. From birth until the legacy well past her death this novel in verse form is deeply moving and sad. The emotions ring true and easily seem as if it is Marilyn herself telling this sad story. I am also very impressed with the depth of Carole Boston Weatherford's research. More than the common story is here which adds a lot to this. This is a wonderful, deeply moving book.
July 30, 2020
“With my eyes shut, I could see a new life”. I have always been fascinated with Marilyn Monroe and her glamourous life. However, this novel brought so much more information on the timeless starlette. Reading this Verse Novel made me feel as if I was reading an intimate diary from Marilyn herself. Who knew a novel about lifetime struggles could be so heartwrenching and beautiful. There is more than meets the eye when it comes to Monroe, and this book delivers all you need to know.
Profile Image for Barbara.
13.1k reviews271 followers
September 19, 2020
Like so many others, I have long been fascinated by Marilyn Monroe just as I've been intrigued by our society's fascination with women considered to be beautiful or sexy. It often seems that we tend to judge someone (usually a woman, of course) by her outer appearance and don't expect her to be smart or to think for herself or even to have any other talent in addition to looking good. It's clear that there was so much more to Marilyn Monroe than met the eye. While I was surprised to find Carole Boston Weatherford tackling this particular subject matter, she does so with grace, insight, and compassion in this novel in verse. The novel opens with a scene of triumph for Marilyn as she gets dressed for the birthday song she will sing to President John F. Kennedy, and then moves to her formative years as she was bounced from one home to the other, landing in foster care and an orphanage, and spending time with her increasingly troubled mother. Her marriage at an early age and rise to fame through the studio system, and her triumphs and failures are all detailed here as is her own struggles with depression and substance abuse. Someone unfamiliar with some of the names that are dropped here will be disoriented, but overall, the lines are easy to follow and capture the essence of a complex woman trying to carve a niche for herself as the things that brought her fame also kept her trapped to a certain extent. My favorite entries were "Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover" with its list of books in Marilyn's personal library and "Living Up to My Name." I also liked the found poem consisting of headlines that served as the epilogue. I had no idea that she had been instrumental in helping Ella Fitzgerald break the color barrier in some jazz clubs, and would have liked to have known a bit more about that and their friendship. In the end, she was clearly "a woman in search of myself" (p. 180), as just might be the case for all of us. How interesting that many of us are still fascinated with her so many decades after her death!
Profile Image for Samama Reza.
176 reviews44 followers
October 1, 2020
“No one knows how it feels inside my troubled mind. No one wants to.”

I only ever knew who Marilyn Monroe was and how she had died. I had never watched any of her movies before, nor did I know anything about her beyond her name and profession. However, I did always wish to know more. I wanted to know why so many people loved her so much despite her controversial past, and why they chose to count her as an inspiration. Beauty Mark by Carole Boston Weatherford helped me know so much about her. My heart is filled with so much love and respect for this woman I never met.

Marilyn Monroe, aka Norma Jeane, struggled so much throughout her whole life, then she struggled some more before she died. This book was a girl’s true tale of suffering, sadness and depression.
All she wanted was to be respected and praised for her hard work and talent and not only for her body. She wanted to work on serious roles - roles that would’ve made her acting talents shine. But in a world full of men who considered women as objects, she had tried, and she had failed.

Marilyn Monroe was a reader, and she lived among books. She loved animals, she loved music, and she was a kind, kind woman. No one cared for that, though, she was unloved in this pitiless world, and that’s all she really needed – enough love to make her want to live another day. But sadly, that didn’t happen.

I knew how this book was going to end, and yet I was hoping against all hopes that maybe things will go differently, I kept wishing if only she could’ve spent the remaining days of her life in peace, if only she could’ve gotten the help she really needed.
This heartbreaking verse novel got a full 5/5 stars from me.
Profile Image for Laura Gardner.
1,670 reviews113 followers
March 26, 2021
Stunning! 🌟
Beauty Mark: A Verse Novel of Marilyn Monroe by @caroleweatherford
Marilyn Monroe’s life is laid out in all its dysfunction and glory. From her childhood bouncing between foster homes to her career and love affair with the camera, (Norma Jeane turned) Marilyn Monroe’s life is explored in depth.
The level of historical detail is incredible, but no surprise given the author’s previous nonfiction work. !! The reader will learn all about the traumatic childhood and early life experiences that made Norma Jeane Doughtery the person she became: her mother’s mental illness, sexual abuse, orphanages, and rejection from her father whom she never met. In addition, readers will learn that “dumb and blonde” is inaccurate on both counts; Norma Jeane was a natural brunette and she was far from dumb with an extensive library full of classics. Although she was frequently taken advantage of by the studios who owned her, she fought hard to control her own career every step of the way and highlights the ways her often “small” roles were the big sells for many movies. She also fought for others like Ella Fitzgerald who was denied bookings in some clubs because she was Black.
The first person verse is often arresting: “No one knows / how it feels / inside my troubled mind. / No one wants to.”
Sometimes the verse is playful, as well: “A gust of air / up my pleated skirt. / Talk about the way to flirt!”
All in all, this book is a triumph and will be a big hit with readers who are obsessed with Marilyn Monroe trivia and those just getting to know her and her complicated life. Grades 8+
#marilynmonroe #carolebostonweatherford #novelinverse #yalit #bookreview #shelfie #beautymark #hadtodosurgerytothebookcover #showthebeautymark
Profile Image for Emily.
2,176 reviews
November 3, 2021
I'm more of an Audrey Hepburn person than Marilyn Monroe, but this book definitely made me want to learn more about Monroe's work. She had an unstable childhood, which set her up for pain later in life. Men underestimated and used her, but she desperately needed their attention. I empathized with her and wondered what she would have been like if she had lived now, when women are more free to make their own choices. Not only was the writing fantastic, but the book itself was also beautiful. I loved it.
Profile Image for Stephanie Dale.
78 reviews2 followers
November 19, 2020
This poor lady... she didn't have a chance. From a terrible childhood (I had NO idea about the foster fams) to being a pretty woman in "Old Hollywood" where we know now how women were treated. All she wanted was to be loved. She tried many times but I think she was broken from the start. Beautifully written and on shiny/glossy paper 🥀
Profile Image for Carrie.
296 reviews
December 31, 2020
A gift from the kids for Christmas. It left me wanting to know more about her and how I could use that found poem in conjunction with Steal Like An Artist and the research of people you admire. A coffee table book for sure!!!
Profile Image for Angelina Ruiz.
15 reviews
February 6, 2023
I HATED this book for some reason. I really could not get into this book. I will say it was really informative but it was really boring. If you are someone who actually likes researching about celebrities you would like this.
Profile Image for Brooke.
863 reviews44 followers
August 23, 2020
Carole Boston Weatherford has made a career of telling the stories of prominent historical figures in a way that is both accessible and enjoyable for children and young adults. Weatherford's latest subject is the infamous Marilyn Monroe, née Norma Jeane Baker, who after a tumultuous and abusive upbringing, rose as a star in Hollywood, before her untimely death by overdose at the age of 36. Marilyn Monroe is known to this day as being a beautiful, voluptuous sex symbol, but Weatherford works to show a different side of Marilyn in her new novel, Beauty Mark: A Verse Novel of Marilyn Monroe.

Beauty Mark opens on young Norma Jeane's life with her mentally ill mother, being bounced around from home to home before becoming a teenage bride at the age of 16. After catching the eye of execs as a pin-up model, Marilyn earned bit part roles in films before her big break in Hollywood. Typically typecast in "blonde bombshell" roles, Marilyn cemented her place in history as a sex symbol of the Golden Age of Hollywood. But there was much more to Marilyn than what was shown on the big screen, and that's where Weatherford comes in.

Told in a series of verses, Beauty Mark gives a voice to Marilyn Monroe, allowing readers into her private thoughts and moments, and demonstrating that there was more substance to this woman than what has been portrayed in the media. This short little book is a testament to Marilyn and the work she put into her career, raising herself from her hardscrabble upbringing to becoming an unforgettable woman who is etched in hearts and history forever.

Beauty Mark is a unique and serious book, picking and choosing parts of Marilyn's personal life and covering much of her work in Hollywood. While I enjoyed this book, I also felt that Marilyn's voice and presence were distant throughout the novel, as if I were holding her at arm's length. I also found myself bored at times with the many film plot summaries sprinkled throughout the book. These sections of the novel provided little insight into Marilyn's life and could easily be researched on the Internet if one was interested. As a reader of a fictionalized account of someone's life, I would much prefer to hear the behind the scenes stories that are not common knowledge. The little tidbits of life and nuances of personality that help you get to know a famous figure on a more intimate level. This is what I feel Beauty Mark lacks.

Beauty Mark is recommended to lovers of biographical fiction, anyone who is interested in the Golden Age of Hollywood, and of course, those who are intrigued by the mysterious Marilyn Monroe.

Thank you to NetGalley & Candlewick Press for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
4 reviews2 followers
September 14, 2020
Just a few pages in & I was hit. This book hits raw & real & straight to the heart. I wish I could reach through the pages & hug the little girl & give her a home. The depth of her struggle comes through very clearly even with very few words. This is very well written and I will be reading it again.
309 reviews3 followers
January 21, 2021
I have read a lot of books about Marilyn Monroe. This was an interesting one. I had to fact check some things in this book because I had never heard them before, they were correct in their writing. Just really didn't get "into" the verse part of it. Kind of lagged to me....
Profile Image for Kristen.
1,799 reviews29 followers
September 4, 2020
Edelweiss+ provided me a DRC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This was a gorgeous, heartbreaking look at the life of Marilyn Monroe...both as a Hollywood starlet and her early life as Norma Jeane. Written in verse and including movie summaries, personal narratives, and historical information, this is a story that will entertain and surprise even the most devout of Marilyn fans.

A life of struggling with mental illness, self-confidence, and outside expectations led to her tragic end, but these pages are also full of humor and honesty and hope. It's hard to read her as a headstrong, dominating force when we all know how her story ends, but seeing her as a human being in these pages is so much more satisfying than just remembering her as a sexy siren who giggled all the time.

My favorite part was probably the epilogue, where Marilyn's death and the aftermath is told through real headlines...all the way up to present day publications, proving that her personality and charisma have endured far beyond her 36 years.

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