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Mary's Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein

Review

Mary's Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein

We all know the story of FRANKENSTEIN, but what about the woman who wrote the iconic story? In MARY'S MONSTER, Lita Judge tells Mary Shelley's life through beautiful free-verse accompanied by watercolor paintings. From Mary's childhood filled with exile and abuse, to the beginning stages of creating the revolutionary novel we all know today, Judge discusses it all. Judge dissects Shelley's life like a cadaver to give a better understanding of the young author and her iconic creature --- and how they really aren't that different.

This is the type of book I've been waiting for since I was very young. The first time I ever read FRANKENSTIEN I was eight-years-old and immediately felt an odd connection with the nameless creature. I became obsessed with the novel, and subsequently the author. I could find a million articles on people's opinions of what the timeless novel meant and implied. But finding information on Mary Shelley proved much harder. Beyond the fact that the story was conceived in response to a challenge from Lord Byron and that she was lovingly married to Percy Bysshe Shelley, there didn't seem to be much else. In my experience, teachers usually didn't know much beyond those supposed facts either. But in MARY'S MONSTER, my almost lifelong curiosity has finally been fed.

"MARY'S MONSTER is truly a must-read for all and belongs in every library and English classroom."

Mary's life being told in free-verse makes it easy to comprehend. Unlike the average biography which tends to be a bit overwhelming to read, the way Judge tells Mary Shelley's story is easy to follow. Judge puts in the truly pivotal, need-to-know details without over-complicating the reading. While some biographies can come across as condescending, there is not even the slightest air of that in MARY'S MONSTER. Judge wrote it in such an artful way that it almost feels like you're reading Shelley's diary. The writing is intimate, beautiful and feels very in-the-moment.

Lita Judge takes on a topic that is seemingly niche and transforms it into possibly the most versatile book I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I cannot think of a person that you could not give this to. Obviously, it's wonderful for fans of Shelley and her work, but it is marketable as so much more. The book is obviously perfect for readers who love nonfiction, but on the flipside, it is perfect for those who love fiction, as Mary's life almost reads like a gothic novel. It's great for people who love poetry, and great for people who love art and graphic novels, but it is also wonderful for more reluctant readers as it is a very fast-paced and easy to follow read. Contradicting that, it's great for readers who like to reflect and dig for deeper meaning. It's the perfect read for the average middle schooler and up. MARY'S MONSTER is truly a must-read for all and belongs in every library and English classroom.

Telling the story of how a young girl plagued by hypocrisy changed literature --- and the world --- forever makes MARY'S MONSTER part heartbreaking and part empowering. Lita Judge spent five years writing, researching and painting for this book. Her passion shines through on every single page. While reading you can feel the love and care she poured into this book as each page seems to pulsate and bleed with every sorrow, every success, every dispelled popular rumor and the not-so-beautiful truth.

In MARY'S MONSTER, readers will learn that Shelley's novel was no fluke and that her life was not full of love and encouragement and was in most cases the opposite. They will learn of Mary Shelley's resilience and passions. After reading, readers will be able to gain a better understanding and appreciation of not only the amazing young woman but of FRANKENSTEIN as well.

Reviewed by Olivia W., Teen Board Member on January 29, 2018

Mary's Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein
by Lita Judge