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School Library Journal Review
Gr 7-9-- Marina, a 14 year old living at a boarding school in Australia, has been facially disfigured under circumstances which are gradually revealed. Since that terrible event, she has not spoken. An English teacher makes diary writing a class assignment; the diary, this novel, becomes Marina's ``voice.'' Still, she remains withdrawn and nurses a great bitterness toward the world. Initially, she rejects the overtures of her dorm mates. With time, she shares in group responsibilities and discovers that her dorm mates--even the ``golden'' ones--have problems. Eventually, Marina is able to accept affection, friendship, and her own growing interest in school and social life. As the novel's pace quickens, she confronts her feelings toward her father, who had intended to attack his unfaithful wife with acid; Marina was the mistaken victim. Marina realizes that, despite everything, she feels forgiveness and compassion for her father. Marsden is a master storyteller. His characterizations--especially of young people--are interesting and believable. The descriptions of the girls' relationships are humorous and moving. There are faint echoes here of Richard D'Ambrosio's No Language But a Cry. (Dell , 1971), a popular nonfiction YA title. This is an intelligent work of literature which is satisfying both intellectually and emotionally. --Libby K. White, Schenectady County Public Library, N.Y. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In her diary, Marina, a young Australian girl locked in a self-imposed silence, reveals her deepest feelings and the family problems that led to her muteness.
Kirkus Book Review
From Australia, a first novel in the form of a diary by a 14-year-old girl who has suffered a trauma so severe that this is her one form of verbal communication. Gradually, as Marina begins to warm to Mr. Linder, her English teacher, and to some of the other students in the boarding school to which she has been sent after leaving a psychiatric hospital, salient facts about her are revealed: her face has been terribly disfigured in an accident; her mother has effectively abandoned her by going to New York with a new stepfather; her father is in prison; in her cold, uncommunicative family, speech was always perilous, liable to be misunderstood and cause trouble; silence was--and is--a sanctuary, a fortress, a prison. Skillfully, as Marina describes the other girls, the author shows them through her anguished eyes but also more objectively as young people who are trying--in their individual, imperfect ways--to help Marina despite her mysterious hostility. Marsden artfully contrives Marina's narrative to maintain suspense as her story emerges. Ultimately, as Marina begins to reach out, acceptance by others gives her the strength to begin the healing process by reaching toward reconciliation with her father--whose crime is finally known to the reader. A moving story, effectively demonstrating that language is a powerful symbol of emotions flowing between people. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.