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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for Beauty Mark: A Verse Novel of Marilyn Monroe

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    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 befor 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!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Diana • Book of Secrets

    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, 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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Peterhans

    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 a 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)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    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 f 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.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Richie Partington

    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 fri 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. Frightened. 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 https://www.facebook.com/richiespicks/ [email protected]

  6. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    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 wh 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.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    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 eve 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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kris Patrick

    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.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    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.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    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. Weatherf 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.*

  11. 4 out of 5

    Carlos Silva

    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 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!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Patti Sabik

    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.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

    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.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chandler Flanagan

    “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.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    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 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!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Samama Reza

    “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 h “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.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Dale

    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 🥀

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

    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 s 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.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Monique

    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. 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.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    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, 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.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mary Lee

    What an amazing life! Just another example of the danger of a single story.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mélanie Mcgilloway

    In my early teens, I was fascinated by Marilyn Monroe. I watched her movies, listened to her songs, bought books, and collected postcards. My favourite photographs of her were always those where she was less Marilyn Monroe and more Norma Jean; when she was younger, when she was in New York studying at the Actors Studio. The more natural, yet very obviously more vulnerable Marilyn, not hiding behind her Hollywood persona. This is the Marilyn you will find amongst the pages of this book. Her voice In my early teens, I was fascinated by Marilyn Monroe. I watched her movies, listened to her songs, bought books, and collected postcards. My favourite photographs of her were always those where she was less Marilyn Monroe and more Norma Jean; when she was younger, when she was in New York studying at the Actors Studio. The more natural, yet very obviously more vulnerable Marilyn, not hiding behind her Hollywood persona. This is the Marilyn you will find amongst the pages of this book. Her voice is pitch perfect, her story heart-wrenching, her pain vivid, pulsating through the text. Free verse allows readers to get so much closer to the narrator’s feelings. Everything feels more raw, less guarded. A beautiful, harrowing piece of writing which made me fall in love with MM again (be prepared, as you are reading that you will want to google photos and video clips to document your reading).

  23. 5 out of 5

    Selkie

    I liked this book so much more than I had thought I would. I do not care much for the movies of Marilyn Monroe, but I have always been interested in her life story, it was so sad. The way it was told in 'Beauty Mark' puts one in mind of the movie 'Norma Jean & Marilyn''; the created alter-ego overtaking her true identity, which still struggles to exist, struggles to be loved. A wonderful book. I liked this book so much more than I had thought I would. I do not care much for the movies of Marilyn Monroe, but I have always been interested in her life story, it was so sad. The way it was told in 'Beauty Mark' puts one in mind of the movie 'Norma Jean & Marilyn''; the created alter-ego overtaking her true identity, which still struggles to exist, struggles to be loved. A wonderful book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sigrid Boggan

    Beauty Mark was provided to me by #Edelweiss for free in exchange for an honest review so here goes. Marilyn has always been my idol. So when I saw that there was a new book coming out in September about her written completely in verse, I jumped at the chance to learn more about the woman whose pictures are all over my house. And of course, this book DID NOT disappoint. #BeautyMark by Carole Boston Weatherford only solidified my love for Marilyn. There was so much about her that I didn’t know th Beauty Mark was provided to me by #Edelweiss for free in exchange for an honest review so here goes. Marilyn has always been my idol. So when I saw that there was a new book coming out in September about her written completely in verse, I jumped at the chance to learn more about the woman whose pictures are all over my house. And of course, this book DID NOT disappoint. #BeautyMark by Carole Boston Weatherford only solidified my love for Marilyn. There was so much about her that I didn’t know that was disclosed in the book. Written in first person about various events in her life starting from her stint in foster care as a child to her family’s battle with mental illness that followed her throughout her life to the many love interests she had in her life. My favorite part was how Marilyn used her celebrity status/ white privilege to ensure that black jazz singer, Ella Fitzgerald was allowed to sing at a nightclub. The book revealed that Marilyn was not only just a pretty face but valued knowledge and wanted to be more than just a sex symbol but was forced to do a lot of her movies and gigs because of her contract with movie studios. The book even said that Marilyn had an extensive library with books that would be envied by any bibliophile like myself. I rated this book 5 stars because it took me on a journey, through the ups and downs of the life of my role model and provided the opportunity to know her even more. It felt as though Marilyn herself was telling me her life story and I didn’t want her to stop because it was so interesting. Potential Triggers: child molestation, rape, statutory rape, mental illness, suicide, child abandonment, loss of loved one, depression, child marriage, use of drugs (prescription)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Zimmerman

    Marilyn Monroe was someone that I’ve obviously always heard other talk about and refer to. I know the lore and the stories and the iconography. But I’ve never explored the person before. I’ve never watched any of her films or read up on her life, so this was, for all intents and purposes, my first exposure to her. And I’m glad that that first exposure was through a first-person narrative. Regardless of the true accuracy (because thoughts are never accurate or organized or able to be so distilled Marilyn Monroe was someone that I’ve obviously always heard other talk about and refer to. I know the lore and the stories and the iconography. But I’ve never explored the person before. I’ve never watched any of her films or read up on her life, so this was, for all intents and purposes, my first exposure to her. And I’m glad that that first exposure was through a first-person narrative. Regardless of the true accuracy (because thoughts are never accurate or organized or able to be so distilled as they are here), I found it really interesting and enlightening. It adds necessary context to a life and an image that’s always taken out of context. Always looked at, never dug into it investigated. I also liked that it was done through poetic prose. It was, perhaps, a bit more episodic than I had anticipated and didn’t go as far into her life as I though (probably though for good reason and to good effect), but it was an engrossing read and has made me all the more curious about Norma Jean, moreso than Marilyn.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    Beauty Mark brings us Marilyn Monroe in an ENTIRELY new way.  Written in prose and verse, this decorated non-fiction author pens an incredible reflection of memories from Monroe’s life. From her tumultuous childhood to her rollercoaster of fame and marriages, Beauty Mark is written in the first person as readers are offered a wholly engrossing story of Marilyn Monroe’s life like we’ve never seen before. I cannot stress enough how unique this author’s writing style is.  Carole Boston Weatherford h Beauty Mark brings us Marilyn Monroe in an ENTIRELY new way.  Written in prose and verse, this decorated non-fiction author pens an incredible reflection of memories from Monroe’s life. From her tumultuous childhood to her rollercoaster of fame and marriages, Beauty Mark is written in the first person as readers are offered a wholly engrossing story of Marilyn Monroe’s life like we’ve never seen before. I cannot stress enough how unique this author’s writing style is.  Carole Boston Weatherford has certainly earned every non-fiction writing award she has won, and rightfully so her flair is so impressive.  In this, her most recent work, she drops the reader squarely into Monroe’s life and offers an unforgiving look at her extraordinary “rise from the ashes” life.  Prior to reading this book I was relatively unaware of Marilyn Monroe’s life and career, other than the readily available images of her Hollywood fame and movie posters.  However, at the conclusion of this read I felt like a Marilyn Monroe expert as readers are left feeling like they lived her life alongside her as a friend and confidant given the way this is so expertly written.  I will certainly be picking up more of this author’s works!  As well as spreading my Monroe knowledge to all I come across.  *Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.  All opinions are my own.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carly Pearl

    4.5 Stars ( I received an e-arc from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review) This was a gripping and beautiful way to tell expanded story of a female icon. While I know the basics about Marilyn Monore; such as her real name being Norma Jeane, her movie history and some of her romantic relationships, I learned quite a bit more. The mental health history with the women in her family and the struggle they faced. Her cycling from foster homes back to an orphanage, finding out she has a half sist 4.5 Stars ( I received an e-arc from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review) This was a gripping and beautiful way to tell expanded story of a female icon. While I know the basics about Marilyn Monore; such as her real name being Norma Jeane, her movie history and some of her romantic relationships, I learned quite a bit more. The mental health history with the women in her family and the struggle they faced. Her cycling from foster homes back to an orphanage, finding out she has a half sister and having to get married quite young to avoid being sent back to the orphanage. Then finding her independence through World War II by working in a factory and being discovered leading to her modeling career.. Which lead to her becoming a Hollywood actress and having to dye her hair that iconic blond. How she became typecast and the fight she goes through become viewed as a serious actress. Her two other marriages were highly publicized as both men were already in the spotlight. Documented through out is Marilyn's slow descent into addiction due her past trauma and anxiety. Telling her story through the form of verse definitely was a good choice and I flew through the novel in one day.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Erikka

    This book is as beautiful and tragic as the woman it's about. I feel like I have a newfound respect for Marilyn, her creativity, her talents (which went so much farther than the two in her bra), and her incredibly difficult life and childhood. My favorite two poems were the one about the Seven Year Itch and the one about her style secrets. The novel in verse was definitely the best format for the story, as its sparse language and vignette styling created snapshots of Marilyn's life, mirroring he This book is as beautiful and tragic as the woman it's about. I feel like I have a newfound respect for Marilyn, her creativity, her talents (which went so much farther than the two in her bra), and her incredibly difficult life and childhood. My favorite two poems were the one about the Seven Year Itch and the one about her style secrets. The novel in verse was definitely the best format for the story, as its sparse language and vignette styling created snapshots of Marilyn's life, mirroring her time in front of a camera. I was also very moved by the fact that she ended the story at her performance of "Happy birthday, Mr. president" and not with her premature death. It was truly a story of Marilyn's life, not the only part we usually remember. Her death is mentioned, but as an epilogue found poem of headlines about the mark she left on the world. This is a verse biography done right and it was extremely powerful. Goodbye, Norma Jeane.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Seb

    ‘The only thing I owned - was my body.’ Marilyn had gone through a lot in her life, to say the least. She spent her childhood being shifted from one house to another and suffered from a lack of love from her parents. She wanted to become an actress and she succeeded. Seven Year Itch with the well-known steaming scene and Some Like It Hot are some of the most famous movies in which she starred. Marilyn is often remembered as playing the role of the dumb blond. I don’t want to give any spoilers so ‘The only thing I owned - was my body.’ Marilyn had gone through a lot in her life, to say the least. She spent her childhood being shifted from one house to another and suffered from a lack of love from her parents. She wanted to become an actress and she succeeded. Seven Year Itch with the well-known steaming scene and Some Like It Hot are some of the most famous movies in which she starred. Marilyn is often remembered as playing the role of the dumb blond. I don’t want to give any spoilers so I’m not going any further. It was a very informative and entertaining book for those who likes Marilyn Monroe or are interested in her life. It is well-written and I enjoyed reading it. However, I would have enjoyed it more or even loved it if the book had been in another format. I would love a copy of the book to reread it. I would like to thank @NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 3.5 stars : ⭐⭐⭐

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Thanks to Candlewick Press for providing a digital ARC of Beauty Mark in exchange for an honest review. I'm going to be honest with you. I'm not a biographical kinda gal. The only biography I remember reading in its entirety before this is Claudette Colvin's (which if you haven't read about her do it right now). Beauty Mark is the kind of story you can enjoy whether or not you're into biographical style reads or not. You don't even really need to be interested in Marilyn Monroe because while this Thanks to Candlewick Press for providing a digital ARC of Beauty Mark in exchange for an honest review. I'm going to be honest with you. I'm not a biographical kinda gal. The only biography I remember reading in its entirety before this is Claudette Colvin's (which if you haven't read about her do it right now). Beauty Mark is the kind of story you can enjoy whether or not you're into biographical style reads or not. You don't even really need to be interested in Marilyn Monroe because while this book is about her, its also about mental health and societal pressures. It takes a larger than life icon and turns her life into a hauntingly relatable read. This book is short in page count and length. You can probably read it within an hour so I see no reason to not give it a shot.

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