Review: John Marsden – So Much to Tell You

So Much to Tell You
John Marsden
Marina has been scarred for life, in her interior and on her exterior. She doesn’t talk, at all, any more. She shrinks into walls, and has spent a long time in hospital.
There’s some really nice insights into the way teenagers feel in this novel. Marina wonders at one point why adults seem so confident. And she asks whether they have lessons after they graduate high school! I kinda wish we adults did get that. But it’s all a matter of hard earned experience.
After one of the other novels I had read recently, this short look into family life is relatively beautiful. Marina’s family is dysfunctional, and there’s no remedy for that, but the other families’ lives that she peers into are good.
I like Marina, and at no point did I feel frustrated by the way she was behaving. I understood that there were things going on that she didn’t write about, and at the same time felt ok with that.
A boarding school always sounded good to me, because I thought it would be fun. I think that’s the fault of Enid Blyton and her ‘The Naughtiest Girl in School’ series. This boarding school, from Marina’s perspective, is both Heaven and Hell. After hating it there, she finds that it is helping her more than she knew.
I’d strongly recommend this novel for teenagers. Angsty, but resolute. Tortured, and yet satisfying. I first read it in high school, a little, unoffensive looking book that has so many feelings inside I’m surprised it can stay on the shelf.
I didn’t know until I was looking for images of this book, that it was his debut novel. I think it’s the first novel of his I read, but I could be wrong. The rest of his novels are just as unfinished as this one, with the exception of ‘Tomorrow When the War Began’. By unfinished, I don’t mean not well written. It’s that it is up to the reader to work out what comes next.
I went looking for a PDF copy of the half-sequel, ‘Take My Word for It’, and instead found a fascinating interview/author biography of Marsden. And he has a school! He’s the Principal of Candlebark, just north of Melbourne, Victoria. Just as his books promote independence and resilience in children and teens, his school does also.

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