Synopses & Reviews
In one of the poorest parts of rural New Hampshire, teenage girls have been disappearing, snatched from back country roads, never to be seen alive again. For seventeen-year-old Marjorie Richards, the fear raised by these abductions is the backdrop to what she lives with her own home, every day. Marjorie has been raised by parents so intentionally isolated from normal society that they have developed their own dialect, a kind of mountain hybrid of English that displays both their ignorance of and disdain for the wider world. Marjorie is tormented by her classmates, who call her “The Talk-funny girl,” but as the nearby factory town sinks deeper into economic ruin and as her parents fall more completely under the influence of a sadistic cult leader, her options for escape dwindle. But then, thanks to a loving aunt, Marjorie is hired by a man, himself a victim of abuse, who is building what he calls “a cathedral,” right in the center of town.
Day by day, Marjorie’s skills as a stoneworker increase, and so too does her intolerance for the bitter rules of her family life. Gradually, through exposure to the world beyond her parents’ wood cabin thanks to the kindness of her aunt and her boss, and an almost superhuman determination, she discovers what is loveable within herself. This newfound confidence and self-esteem ultimately allows her to break free from the bleak life she has known, to find love, to start a family, and to try to heal her old, deep wounds without passing that pain on to her husband and children.
By turns darkly menacing and bright with love and resilience, The Talk-Funny Girl is the story of one young woman’s remarkable courage, a kind of road map for the healing of early abuse, and a testament to the power of kindness and love.
"Merullo's (Breakfast with Buddha) coming-of-age story is told from afar by Marjorie Richards, now a married mother of two, but 20-some years ago a poor girl with an awkward dialect stuck in rural New Hampshire with abusive parents. On the eve of her 17th birthday, Margie's dad tells her to find 'full-pay work' and she gets a job helping Sands Ivers build a cathedral from the ruins of a burned church. It's a lucky break, as Sands's recovery from past trauma shows Margie how to shed her damaged adolescent shell in favor of a young woman's self-assurance if she doesn't end up murdered, that is, as a sadistic killer is rounding up and murdering young girls in the area. The adult Margie's desire to relive this year is fueled by her need to break the chain of abuse. She evaluates the psychology that kept her a victim to her parents' sadism, but that sadism, which is over the top, and Margie's emotional remove make it hard to empathize. The kidnap-and-murder plot Merullo adds keeps the pages turning, but it resolves with a conclusion that, though twisted, seems to involve almost everyone Margie knows, putting a further strain on the reader's belief. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
ROLAND MERULLO is the acclaimed author of twelve previous books, including Revere Beach Boulevard, In Revere in Those Days, A Little Love Story, Golfing with God, Breakfast with Buddha, and American Savior. Merullo has won numerous prizes, including the Massachusetts Book Award for both fiction and nonfiction. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two children.