Beauty Mark Conjures an Icon

Book trailer and preview: The author reads “Stand Still,” the novel’s opening poem.

Beauty Mark:

A Verse Novel of Marilyn Monroe

Hardcover: 192 pages

Candlewick Press, September 2020

ISBN: 9781536206296

Beauty Mark: A Verse Novel of Marilyn Monroe was conceived after Weatherford, a college professor, saw teens rocking Monroe piercings and gear as the #MeToo movement was rocking Hollywood. “The irony intrigued me,” says Weatherford.

So, the poet who channeled a jazz legend in Becoming Billie Holiday, set out to conjure Monroe. “I probed Marilyn’s head and heart, her hardships and hopes,” says Weatherford. That research produced the first young adult trade book about the star.

In first-person poems, Monroe reflects backstage before singing “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy. The heartrending story spans foster care, failed marriages, miscarriages, mental illness, substance abuse and sexual abuse and exploitation.

Monroe’s dumb blonde persona belied her intellect. “She was a painter, poet, gardener, book lover, businesswoman and the brains behind her brand,” Weatherford notes. A feminist and an ally, the star confronted sexual harassment, started her own production company and supported the Civil Rights Movement.

When her friend, Ella Fitzgerald, was barred from performing at a Los Angeles nightclub, Monroe promised to sit in the front row every night if the club booked the jazz singer. The owner agreed, and Fitzgerald played to a packed house. 

Beauty Mark also evokes Monroe’s style and body confidence. In September 1954, she posed for a publicity still for The Seven Year Itch. As she stood atop a New York subway grate, a gust of air sent her skirt flying up. The historic photo shoot drew more than 1,000 spectators.

“Yet, for all that Marilyn bared before the camera, she remains an enigma,” says Weatherford. “That only heightens her allure.”

Rave Reviews for Beauty Mark

“This searing, aching love poem [offers]… a window into a uniquely magnificent and terrifying life.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“…[E]xquisite page design, meticulously incorporated research, and magnetic subject…”—Booklist

“Weatherford’s intimate writing style will make readers feel like they’re accessing Marilyn’s private journals.”—School Library Journal

“[A] psychologically nuanced biography…”—School Library Connection

The book’s opening poem sets the stage for flashbacks to come.
Teachers Guide (download)

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