Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release: April 1, 2014
Go Ask Alice was a hoax. But Dear Nobody is a true teen diary so raw and so edgy its authenticity rings off every pageMary Rose is real, or so I have been told. This book's synopsis advocates her existence, and the woman manning the Sourcebooks booth at PLA assured me of the same. I want to believe them—I do believe them—because her story is raw and powerful. The knowledge that it happened makes it even more meaningful.
"I am a freak."
The words and drawings of Mary Rose present a gritty, powerful, no-holds-barred true experience of a teen girl so desperate to be loved, so eager to fit in that she'll go to extremes that could cost her her life.
This is not a story about addiction. Or sexual promiscuity. Or cystic fibrosis. It's the story of a young woman with a powerful will to live, who more than anything wants to be heard...and loved.
This compelling, emotional account ensures her voice will not be forgotten.
At first, I struggled to accept that Mary Rose wrote these diaries as a teenager—that they did not jump from the imagination of an adult with a college degree in writing—because her words are so well-crafted. They have some technical imperfections, but her cinematic way of assembling scenes and describing her world seems like something out of a novel, not a journal. I am sure the editors of Dear Nobody helped by cutting parts that detracted from the story's dramatic effect and re-ordering entries, but the words are hers. I never write so vividly when journaling, so I admire the amount of time Mary Rose must have put into recording her life.
Her diligent detailing does more than challenge her credibility, though; it creates a captivating story that took hold of my emotions. I could not sympathize with Mary Rose's problems, but thanks to her words, I could empathize. Her entries display real struggles, allowing people who have never experienced them to grab a glimpse of their impact. As someone who has never dealt with addiction, a chronic illness, or any of her other conflicts—or been close to anyone who has—I grew fascinated with the way Mary Rose's narrative showed me a hint of what these issues can do to a teenager. Dear Nobody takes readers like me to another side of reality and illuminates a life that could have been theirs, making it a haunting tale.
However, the thing that stands out to me above all else, and the thing that truly convinces me Mary Rose is real, is that Dear Nobody is not a cautionary tale. It is not an "issue book." It is simply, effortlessly her life, the way only a journal could be. I fight to imagine someone sitting at a computer, typing these words, pretending to be the book's protagonist, but Dear Nobody displays a certain realism, impossible to pinpoint but undeniably present, on every page. Mary Rose's diaries have no forced morals or discussion points because they were originally personal records meant only for her. This is by far the best aspect of her stunning story.
Mary Rose addressed her journal entries "Dear Nobody," as if no one would ever listen to anything she had to say. While she may have felt that way while writing them, it is no longer true. I listened, I cared, and now teenagers across the country will do the same. I am so thankful that this book, originally meant for no one, was sent to the world, to everyone.