Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose - McNeil

Title: Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose
Author: Gillian McCain & Legs McNeil
Published: 2013
Genre: Non-Fiction
2/5- Just okay.  Choose with extreme prejudice.
Book Source: I received this book through Netgalley, free of cost, in exchange for an honest review.

Recommended if you like: Memoirs, Young Adult
What Its About:   
This book is billed as an "actual, posthumously published [teenager's] diary", a Go Ask Alice for the 1990's. 

Honestly, I didn't know a lot about the fiction vs. non-fiction drama behind Go Ask Alice. I read it years ago. It was interesting. And it started with a disclaimer that states its fictional... Um.... Why the drama?!


(See how I did that? Tapping into my inner teen there...) Anyway... 

Mary Rose is a lonely teen struggling with a difficult life. In her diary, she opens her heart to "Nobody", to whom each entry is addressed.

The Bottom Line:
I wanted to like this book about Mary Rose, a teen struggling with some real difficulties in life. In fact, I really, really wanted to like it! Open the first page and it clarifies that she is living Reading, Pennsylvania. I grew up in Reading, PA! Then she moves to Wernersville, PA. I've got relatives in Wernersville!  And I too was a geeky kid with very few friends!  Connections baby, very cool! Unfortunately, I just couldn't.

First, I just couldn't get the fact-or-fiction issue out of my mind. I just kept asking, "Would I have said/done that? Would my friends?" For example, Mary Rose makes a comment about not having the "beans" to go out (ie money). Um... Haven't heard a teen say such a thing in...40+ years! Secondly, she talks multiple times about how attractive she is. Call me foolish, but I seem to recall that pretty much EVERY teen thought they were ugly or unattractive in some way. Maybe times have changed, but I doubt it. And yeah, I know boy chasing and falling in love, foolishly and desperately, is very STEREOTYPICAL. But the whole book was just to contrived for me.

Furthermore, Mary Rose was an utterly unlikable person. No wonder she had no friends! I'm sorry, but one minute she was bragging about herself and the next crying no one likes her. She got herself wrapped up reapeatedly in bad situations, with bad people, and surprise, surprise...bad things happened. It's like she was incapable of learning better - even animals learn to stop doing things that hurt them! She visited rehab more often than Amy Winehouse sang about it, and ended up in the hands of the police just as often. And this was supposed to be the 1990's!? It's called DSS (Department of Social Services) people! And yet, not a word about them...

Which is another point... There is no mention of popular music in her writing. What teen doesn't talk constantly about music or television or, I don't know, anything pop-cultural-ish? Especially a teen who envisions herself a performer!

Another major complaint, this "diary" just focused on way too much!
-A horrible mother who chooses her slimy boyfriend and booze over her children time and time again
-No friends
-Drinking and alcoholism
-Drug use (she mentioned her heroin use like its a passing fad - seriously?!) and rehab
-Cystic Fibrosis, sickness, and dying
-Gang rape and being abused by older boys/men (she addresses these horrific events so easily and moves on so quickly. I'm sorry, but even teens who have had a tough life are going to have more of a reaction to such things)

It just goes on and on and ANY ONE of those topics would have made an amazing story!

Overall, its just unrealistic. And, if this horrible life was real, if all these terrible things really did happen to this poor girl - I'm sorry, but the "editors' did a crap job!! I'm sorry, but its true.

Positives? Yes, generally, the writing wasn't bad. Despite a few key "beans", mostly it was well written and teen-believable. Also, I really liked the Nobody concept... I like the vision it gave of having no one to share her thoughts with, no one to unload to, no one she trusted other than perhaps herself. This would have been a GREAT hook, in a different book. If the editors had just let this be a work of fiction "based on a true story", it could have been an awesome book.  Also, the unwavering honesty that is shared in her posts, heartbreaking yet tender.

So, overall, it was just...alright.