Monday, October 15, 2012

Review: The Talk-Funny Girl

The Talk-Funny Girl: A Novel

Author: Roland Merullo
Pages: 320
Publisher: Crown
Source: Review Copy- thank you!
Synopsis: 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 her own home, every day.  Marjorie has been raised by parents so intentionally isolated from normal society that they have developed their own dialect, a kind of mountain hybrid of English that displays both their ignorance of and disdain for the wider world.  Marjorie is tormented by her classmates, who call her “The Talk-funny girl,” but as the nearby factory town sinks deeper into economic ruin and as her parents fall more completely under the influence of a sadistic cult leader, her options for escape dwindle.  But then, thanks to a loving aunt, Marjorie is hired by a man, himself a victim of abuse, who is building what he calls “a cathedral,” right in the center of town. 

Day by day, Marjorie’s skills as a stoneworker increase, and so too does her intolerance for the bitter rules of her family life.  Gradually, through exposure to the world beyond her parents’ wood cabin thanks to the kindness of her aunt and her boss, and an almost superhuman determination, she discovers what is loveable within herself.  This newfound confidence and self-esteem ultimately allows her to break free from the bleak life she has known, to find love, to start a family, and to try to heal her old, deep wounds without passing that pain on to her husband and children.

By turns darkly menacing and bright with love and resilience, The Talk-Funny Girl is the story of one young woman’s remarkable courage, a kind of road map for the healing of early abuse, and a testament to the power of kindness and love. 

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The Talk-Funny Girl is the gritty story of a girl trying to find her place in the world. Marjorie has had so many obstacles holding her back, from her parents to a lack of money. She's still able to rise above everything and be better than even she thought she could be.

The story is contemporary and it shows the life of a reclusive country family. I thought the small town life felt realistic, but I've never lived in the country so I'm not sure how true that statement is. Nonetheless, this book had a certain realness to it that most books don't. Life wasn't shiny and pretty in The Talk-Funny Girl. Life was messy. There are so many little things in life that sometimes people choose to overlook because they're not pleasant. These tiny details were included in Roland Merullo's book.

This isn't a story for everyone. It's not a story written just to be entertaining, there's more to it than that. I started out only mildly interested, and my interest grew as the story progressed. There are awful stuff in this book. There was one scene near the middle that enraged me. The things done to Marjorie were not fair and just seeing the way her parents reacted... The most incredible thing in this story is that the author gets the reader to understand the main character. She has love for her family but what they do is so wrong. That's such an important part to the novel and I think it's so skillful.

The most impressive part of the story to me, as a reader, was how the author brought all the characters to life, especially Marjorie's abusive parents. There are so many subtleties to their characters- you want to believe that deep down they're good, especially since there are glimpses of it, but then they act in another manner and it's heart breaking. Marjorie deserves better- all parents should be better. The reader hopes for redemption, or even retribution, but what happens fits. When it comes to the characters in the story, a lot of them have been through awful things but it's the way they respond that makes them who they are. Some hide from the world; some try to ease their pain by making the people around them suffer; some give back in an effort to make the world better for someone else than it was for them. That was powerful.

Overall, the little things in The Talk-Funny Girl are what make the novel special. There is suffering, there is hope, and there's life. 4 stars,


1 comment:

  1. Wow, what an interesting and unusual premise. Thanks for reviewing this book, b/c otherwise we're not sure we would have heard of it, or thought to pick it up. (Although we do love the title!)


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