The Boss Babe Blog
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Clue: Read a book with over 600 pages.
My Choice: "Blonde" by: Joyce Carol Oates
When I was trying to decide on a book that fit the description for this particular challenge, I ran across a lot of prequels, sequels, series, trilogies, etc. I wasn't really looking for a reading commitment of that proportion. I just wanted a long novel, so I could get this part of the reading challenge over with. The title was really the first thing that caught my eye. "Blonde". It was so vague, it left me wondering what the story would actually be about. When I flipped through the pages and read the description on the cover, I soon realized that this was the story of Norma Jean Baker's life, written from what this author would imagine to be her point of view. Marilyn Monroe. A name that I would soon learn Norma Jean actually despised, a household name around the world. Marilyn Monroe. The epitome of beauty. What I would soon realize she was also the epitome of strength in more ways than one. I've always been an avid believer that as a society, we sometimes begin to bend and twist history until it fits the story that we would like to tell. We remember things the way we choose to believe that they happened, and most of the time we get a few details wrong. I can honestly say, if Joyce Carol Oates got anything right in this novel, then I had quite a few details wrong in my mind before reading this book.
Captivating from the first page, it was. Everything was written very realistically. No one was made out to be the hero, nor was anyone portrayed purely as a villain. Even Norma Jean's mother, who would force her daughter into a bathtub of scalding hot water and consider binge-drinking a daily affair, would be described in a positive light with a soft heart at times. Love triangles weren't actually perfect triangles, there were jagged edges and broken pieces thrown into the mix as well. The characters didn't always think rationally, sometimes they made less-than-appropriate decisions, and sometimes they were left in the dark and unable to see the entire picture. The author obviously held the understanding that sometimes even the people with the kindest hearts and gentlest souls, do some of the most unspeakable things. There was an abortion, a miscarriage, and a failed wedding proposal. There were friends lost, friends gained, and a question of who Norma Jean's true friends were. There was love, and there was betrayal. There were scandals at every corner, though most of them stemmed from good reasoning and were not so scandalous when you took the entire situation into consideration.
Now, I understand that no one will ever truly know how Ms. Marilyn Monroe was feeling throughout all of these different points in her life, and no one will ever be able to put into words her exact thoughts, but this book is probably the closest to the truth that anyone will ever be able to publish. I turned the last page of this novel with an entirely different respect for the woman that I thought I knew so much about. This was an eyeopening story, and even if it doesn't give us anymore true insight into the life of Marilyn Monroe, it will present you a new understanding of some of the hardships that the people in your very own neighborhood may be facing right now. You might start to see life in a different light after you finish this book. I highly recommend that you add this to your 2016 reading list.