A Woman Named Marilyn Monroe

Some stories overwhelm me; Marilyn Monroe’s is one of them.

Reading The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe (Taraborrelli), I was reminded of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (Fadiman), in that the complexity of the situation from which the story unfolds is more than the brain can process. Then there is the story…

At the crossroads of mental illness, paternity questions, foster homes and parental instability came a girl called Norma Jeane who would grow up to be a woman named Marilyn Monroe. I had never read much about Monroe but I’m glad this is the book I chose. What Taraborrelli does so well is focus on the relationships between the women-- and mental illness—in Norma Jeane’s family. He does so with compassion and the 21st century perspective needed to understand what a hellhole Marilyn Monroe found herself in.

After finishing the book, which I read obsessively for two weeks, I was stunned not by the tragedy of her passing but the fact that she was courageous enough to live as long as she did.