Monday, November 02, 2009

So Much To Tell You, by John Marsden

Told through the diary entries of 14 year-old Marina, this story traces Marina's recovery from an assault. The details come out only slowly and the reader is left mostly in the dark about the circumstances, focusing instead on Marina's struggles to communicate with her peers and caretakers. For that reason, it isn't really possible to say much more about the story without giving out spoilers.

This spare story is short and actually quite straightforward, complete with a feel good ending towards which it is inexorably hurtles. It's a classic (book of the year in Australia) and it has its charms. Marina's voice is very clear and her recovery is quite believable. The problem is that this story of a young woman who loses her ability to communicate has been done so much better since (Speak being an obvious example that jumps to mind). The book feels more like an Afterschool Special than a YA classic. The device of the diary entries allows Marsden to skip over events as he pleases which helps move the story along, but it also distances us from the other characters in the book. Only Marina herself gets developed and we are left to wonder what really is going on with the other girls (who we are told go through all manners of heartache and suffering -- based on the crying and histrionics -- but of which we never learn much in the way of details). It's a pleasing tear-jerker but an opaque and largely unfulfilling work in the end.

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