Hollywood glam girl Marilyn Monroe remains an icon decades after her tragic death. Though Monroe's life was shrouded in a seemingly endless web of myths, author Carole Boston Weatherford (Schomburg; Freedom in Congo Square) separates fact from fiction in the evocative Beauty Mark, a narrative written in verse and told from Monroe's first-person perspective.
Grounded in verified historical details, Weatherford's story conveys Monroe's vulnerability as a young girl (then known as Norma Jeane Baker) who bounced between dysfunctional households until she married for the first time at 16. When Monroe entered modeling, she found where she belonged "and who [she] belonged to: the public./ Frame by frame, photos gave [her] to the world." The author also captures the sincere emotions that came with the pin-up model-turned-starlet's ambition to be respected as a serious actress; her frustration at being underpaid for films (even after becoming a box office star); and the constant scrutiny surrounding her personal life: "I am not made of stone but of porcelain./ I am a Fabergé egg that has broken into a thousand pieces./ I am glued together with tears."
Such haunted musings are cemented by notable events well publicized during Monroe's tempestuous career, and her inner dialogue, crafted in stanzaic structure, evokes an emotional resonance rarely found in biographical prose. With images throughout and back matter that points readers to more information on Monroe, Weatherford's lyrical ode humanizes a woman who was a living legend long before she became a tragic one. --Rachel Werner, Hugo House and The Loft Literary Center faculty