So Much to Tell You
1995 Fawcett Books cover
|Genre||Young adult novel|
|Publisher||Joy Street Books (1987)|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback|
|Pages||120 pp (paperback)|
|Followed by||Take My Word for It|
So Much to Tell You is a young adult novel by Australian author John Marsden, first published in 1987. It was his debut book. It was instantly successful in Australia and the US, and has since been translated into nine languages and awarded many highly acclaimed literary awards including the Christopher Medal and the Victorian Premier's Award. It was declared the Best Book of the Year by the Children's Book Council, and, accordingly, its author hopes that it will act as a source of inspiration to other teens who have had to overcome trauma and challenges in their lives which have had long-term ramifications.
So Much to Tell You, based on a true story, is presented as a diary written by a 14-year-old girl known as Marina. Marina has a scarred face because she was the incidental victim of an incident involving acid, a wound given to her by her father, intended for her mother. She refused to talk to anyone during her long recovery period in hospital, so she was sent to Warrington, a girls' boarding school, because nothing else appeared to be working. But even after her arrival, she maintains her silence. Then, one day, her English teacher Mr. Lindell encourages the class to keep journals. Despite the fact that Marina is determined not to make use of her diary, she cannot resist writing about some of the seemingly trivial events of her day. However, the content of her entries becomes more and more revealing over time, and readers are able to better understand Marina's world: how her friends, teachers and create profound and lasting impressions on her psyche. Marina goes from not interacting with others at all, to opening up and socialising, and eventually finding non-verbal ways of communicating. However, as the book continues, Marina's negative feelings towards her father fade away, and by the end of the book she devises a plan which enables her to see him again. When she speaks for the first time, in such a long time, she utters her only words for the entire novel: "Hello, Dad... I've got so much to tell you..."
Students of Warrington
'Marina May Jamison': Marina is the book's main character and narrator. Initially, she is heavily introverted and avoids contact with her fellow students. Also she has "anorexia of speech".
Cathy Gloria Preshill: The closest thing Marina has to a friend for most of the book. She invites Marina over for the holidays. She is tall and thin, and reads things like Illusions. She also enjoys writing poetry.
Sophie Marie Smith: One of the most promiscuous girls in the dorm, Sophie is loud and bubbly. Marina once saw Sophie saying to herself "I hate you, you off moll, you bitch", although she runs away crying when she sees Marina standing there.
Ann Chloe Maltin: Described by Marina as very nice and pretty. She had a clay eagle that Marina broke by accident.
Kate Isobel Mandeville: Kate is the loudest girl in the dorm, but has a side to her that no one but Marina knows. She always talks about sex and boys.
Lisa Scarlett Morris: Lisa is tall with lovely blonde hair. She is very Nordic looking. Lisa has a slight mark on one cheek from a skiing accident. She is strong and quiet but still popular, and seems like nothing can hurt her. Marina sees her crying violently on her bed when no one else is around, but doesn't find out why.
Tracey Jill McDonald: After Marina, Tracey is the most unpopular girl in the dorm, and is often more malicious to her than the others. Described as quite big and plain.
Staff of Warrington
Mr Lindell: Marina's English teacher. He invites Marina to stay at his place several times. Marina trusts him the most. He assigns his class the journals to write in.
Mrs Ransome: The school counsellor. Marina sees her at least once a week. She has a son who is out of control.
Mrs Graham: The Housemistress/Year Adviser. Disapproves of Marina's silent state.
Dr Whitely: The Headmistress of Warrington. Marina also mentions that she teaches Divinity.
Robyn Jamison: Marina's mother comes across as unsympathetic and impatient for Marina to regain her ability to speak. She also comes across as fake and a selfish woman who only cares about herself. She sends Marina to boarding school supposedly to learn to speak again, but really her mother just wants her out of the way to make room for her new husband. Later in the book she goes to New York with her new partner whom she refers in her letters as JJ.
Tony Jamison: Marina's father is not so much a significant character; however, he is always on Marina's mind. Marina is unsure about how to feel about him whether it be anger, grief, or forgiveness.
Origins of story
The book is partially based on a true story. Marina's character is based on a fourteen-year-old girl and a woman named Kay Nesbit, whose face was damaged by a shotgun blast. In addition, the dedication in the beginning of the book identifies a certain John Mazur as the English teacher, Mr. Lindell, who gives Marina her diary assignment and is one of the people she places the most trust in.
So Much to Tell You: The Play
A play based on this book was written by the same author, John Marsden, in 1992. According to the author, he has always wanted to put So Much to Tell You on the stage.
Take My Word for It
A half-sequel with the title Take My Word for It was written in 1992, from the point of view of Lisa Morris. It tells Lisa's story over the same period, as well as her observation of Marina, but then expands on this and shows Marina after her visit with her father. The second point of view aids the reader by answering some questions from the first, for example, the cause of Marina's nervous breakdown in early April, and the reason for Lisa's crying earlier.
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It was pretty instantly successful in Australia and the US, and has since been translated into nine languages and awarded many highly acclaimed literary awards including the Christopher Medal and the Victorian Premier's Award. It was declared the Best Book of the Year by the Children's Book Council.