Wednesday, February 16, 2011

REVIEW: Bad Marie, by Marcy Dermansky

Bad Marie, by Marcy Dermansky. Published 2010 by Harper Perennial. Fiction.

Bad Marie is a great, quick read. The story of a woman recently released from prison who seems to be doing everything to go back as soon as possible, it's also the story of a woman who gets herself into an impossible mess and realizes the only way out is through her love for a little girl.

Straight out of jail for being an accomplice to a crime, Marie is hired by Ellen, an old friend, to babysit her little daughter Caitlin. Marie is besotted with the little girl, and soon by her friend's husband as well, a weak and feckless man who's even less than he appears. The three run away together but realism takes over quickly as their journey transforms from a romantic idyll to a grim search for diapers, food for the baby, and cash.

What holds the book together, and kept me turning the pages, is Marie's desperate love for Caitlin and her even more desperate wish that somehow they stay together, that Caitlin forget her mother, that somewhere, some man will finally take care of both of them and Marie can fully regress into the child she longs to be and has been so far. But Dermansky won't let Marie off so easily and shows us instead Marie's gradual but steady transformation into a responsible adult, one who knows that the only way to take care of Caitlin is to let the little girl go and to finally take responsibility for her actions.

I loved Bad Marie. I read it quickly because I couldn't wait to find out what would happen, what new cringe-worthy adventure or mess she'd get herself into next and how she'd get out of it. I love Dermansky's realistic and raw portrayal of Marie and of the situation she creates for herself; the book starts out with an irresponsible young woman, basically an overgrown child herself, indulging in short-term pleasures with no thought of the future. Prison was a good place for Marie; she didn't have any real worries or responsibilities and she wants her post-prison life to be the same. But she grows up because she finds out that loving someone else is a responsibility in and of itself, and one that she'll take on even if it means giving up her freedom again. It's well-written and will appeal to lots of readers. Pick it up!

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.