Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review: Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky

How long has it been since I posted a proper review??? For FRACKIN' ever. That's how long. After a miserable slump, I finally chose to jump back into my Tournament of Books Reading Challenge (personal challenge), and I picked Bad Marie, by Marcy Dermansky, from my Nook stash.

Marie went to prison for six years after her boyfriend robbed a bank. She ends up the live-in nanny for a woman she grew up with. They can't quite be classified as "friends" because Ellen doesn't particularly like Marie. Ellen has even less reason to like Marie after she seduces her husband and essentially kidnaps her child.

And that's not spoiling anything.

In the beginning of this novel, Marie is an idiot. She kinda stays that way throughout, but she at least gains some semblance of maturity and selflessness from caring for Caitlyn, the little girl in the book.  While Marie makes stupid decisions that made my head spin, she is an endlessly interesting character. She doesn't really feel malicious, she's just kinda clueless and bored?? Numb??? Until Caitlyn.

There were highs and lows for me in Bad Marie. Marcy Dermansky's writing is most definitely a high. It's matter of fact and concise. There's not a lot of extraneous description or fluff. She tells a tightly-woven story which made me cringe in spots. With the newfound sensitivity to all things child (ever since I had my own), I really felt for Caitlyn during the parts of the book when Marie was just dragging her along for her own selfish, shitty reasons. She wanted this or that thrill, this or that false feeling of accomplishment. By the time the book ended I still wanted to slap Marie, but I felt like she had turned the corner toward doing the right thing. It's a testament to Dermansky's writing that I had such a visceral reaction to Marie's and Caitlyn's plight.

On the lower end, I felt there was a little too much "and it just so happened" in this novel. After Marie was released from prison, she just so happened to get a job with a friend who didn't really like her growing up? And that friend just so happened to be married to the novelist whose book Marie latched onto and re-read compulsively in prison? And Marie just so happened to meet two movie stars on her trek? REALLY?! So yes, I had a problem with that. It made me roll my eyes. Did it change my opinion of the book? Not really. Marie was the real basket case star here, and she was written very well.

My e-book copy of Bad Marie also includes some extra materials in the back: a short interview with Marcy Dermansky, a list of movies and books she's found influential. As it turns out, Dermansky is also a movie critic and highly influenced by French film. I'm certainly no expert, but I found this insight into the author very fresh and likable, and I'd like to know more about the films she finds worthwhile. There goes my Netflix queue, growing all the time. Call me a sucker for intertexuality.

I have to thank Marcy Dermansky and Bad Marie for pulling me out of my reading slump for a bit. This novel was just the thing: crisp writing and a short page count (167). I recommend it whether you're slumping or not, and I think it'd be great for discussion.

Write on, Ms. Dermansky! Right on!

Snuggle -- Skewer

Pub. Date: June 2010
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: e-book


  1. I am glad you enjoyed this one. I read it for a readathon awhile back and thought it was great. There were definitely a few circumstances in the book that were a little too serendipitous for me too but it wasn't egregious enough that I couldn't look past it.

  2. I love Harper Collins so I'm sure I'd enjoy this book but it sounds kind of miserable. I see that you enjoyed it so I'll probably have to try it! Yay for recommendations. :)

  3. I really enjoyed this one. It was such a captivating, quick, naughty read. I do think it's a good book to pull you out of a reading slump, and I hope the slump stays away!

  4. It does sound like there are a lot of coincidences in this book, but I think I would enjoy it because Marie sounds like a character I would love to hate.

  5. Lola, this would be a great book for a readathon. It's just the right length and just the right writing style. And amen re: the serendipitous parts. Not terribly believable but also not detrimental.

  6. Cassie, I love them, too! I don't find too many misses with their books. And it is kind of miserable, but there's also a sense of humor to the misery. Recommended.

  7. Carrie, naughty is a good word. Marie is most definitely a naughty character. So far, so good. I started Everything is Going to Be Great by Rachel Shukert last night, and it's HILARIOUS. The opening pages made me smile like I had a coat hanger in my mouth.

  8. Kathy, I think you'd love to hate Marie. There were also some other stupid characters at whom I enjoyed rolling my eyes: bitchy wife, worthless writer, pretentious stars. Good stuff.

  9. I have this on my list to read some day because your enthusiasm makes me think it is worth checking out. Good review!

  10. Good review! And I know what you mean re:a new sensitivity to child-related issues since having your own...I'm the same way. In fact I've really struggled with all of the news coming from Penn State - I just feel so murderous about the whole thing.

  11. Thanks, Kelly! I hope you like it if you get around to it.

    Courtney, murderous is the best word ever. I just want to sucker punch everyone involved in the balls.


Thanks for taking the time to comment! Blogger has been a beast lately, so I hope you do not have any troubles leaving your thoughts.

Images by Freepik