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The Talk-Funny Girl    by Roland Merullo Amazon.com order for
Talk-Funny Girl
by Roland Merullo
Order:  USA  Can
Crown, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Teenage girls have been disappearing from parts of rural New Hampshire. They are picked up along back-country roads and never seen again.

Marjorie Richards lives in that area with her mother and father - if her existence can be called living. Her parents are dirt poor, living on the largesse of the state and her mother's step-sister. Her parents have come under the influence of a wildly postulating pastor, who preaches that we must all be physically punished for our sins. Even children. He advocates pouring buckets of water from an icy stream over the child's head, winter no exception. He professes that hunger will bring them in line.

Marjorie has survived these and various other forms of punishment. Although she is seventeen, she won't leave her parents, feeling she will be punished for abandoning them when they need her. They insist she get a job and bring money into the house or she will be punished.

Her parents speak their own form of English. Understandable, but jumbled. Marjorie, of course, does the same. When she first went to school, she was called the talk-funny girl. That sure couldn't have given her a boost into the big world.

She meets Sands who teaches her stonework while he is building his very own small cathedral! Life looks up for a bit but the parents go too far. What comes next is not so surprising, knowing the parents' proclivities. But the final chapter will have you saying to yourself, why didn't I see that coming?

The Talk-Funny Girl offers a look at the a side of life that most of us have never seen. Or hope to see. Merullo presents it so convincingly that I felt a part of Marjorie's life and took umbrage at every arrow slung at her. Roland Merullo is a prize-winning author and The Talk-Funny Girl should bring him another prize or two.

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