A real teen's diary so raw and edgy it will not be forgotten.
They say that high school is supposed to be the best time of your life. But what if that's just not true?
More than anything, Mary Rose wants to fit in. To be loved. And she'll do whatever it takes to make that happen.
Even if it costs her her life.
Told through the raw and unflinching diary entries of a real teen, Mary Rose struggles with addiction, bullying, and a deadly secret. Her compelling story will inspire youand remind you that you're not alone.
"Mary Rose's diary is a heart-wrenching tale of a young girl trying to figure everything out."VOYA
"The writing style has a beautiful lyricism... Readers will appreciate this unflinchingly honest work."School Library Journal
Read an Excerpt
The True Diary of Mary Rose
By GILLIAN McCAIN, LEGS McNEIL
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2013 Gillian McCain and Legs McNeil
All rights reserved.
LATE FALL, 1996
Tonight I got arrested. I hate saying that, but it happens.
I had a 40 ounce beer in my hand and one in my book bag and I smelled like it. I was walking with my two friends, when this cop pulls up and goes, "Is something wrong?"
We all said nothing was wrong, but then the cop pointed to me and said, "Why does she look so sad?"
I made up some bullshit about how my boyfriend and I just broke up, but by then he had already seen the 40 ounce I was hiding in my coat.
They arrested me, but not my two friends, because they had no alcohol on them. My mom picked me up at the police station — and on the way back home we got into a fight over the time when I was twelve and she had pot in her car. A lot, too.
So I just got out of the car and tried to walk my drunken ass home, but it turns out I was walking in the wrong direction. I could've walked from Reading to Pottstown; that's over twenty miles. Shit, I bet I would've kept walking, if I hadn't seen this mall I knew, and was like, "Oh shit, what now?" I turned around and went to a store I saw closing up. It was after ten. Actually, I had been making pretty good time. I'm glad that I'm in fairly good shape right now, because I would never have made it if I was sick.
So I had time to think things through.
When I got back to Reading, I let this cop car see me, because it was past curfew and I wanted a ride home. Also, I had a feeling I wouldn't get fined; I figured there was no way, after all this shit — that anything else that fucked up could happen to me.
The cop came into my house and talked with my mom and me. He said he wanted me to grow up to be happy and healthy, and that he wanted me to introduce him to my kids some day, and that he wanted to see me live to grow old.
First off, I'll never have kids.
And secondly, I'll never get old.
It's hard to grow old when you're dead.
Today my mother's boyfriend, Joe, started threatening my life — saying he'd slit my throat and break my neck — and that it would be worth the jail time. When my mother tried to protect me, he swore she'd be dead in the river with me. She stopped protesting after that — she's a TERRIBLE swimmer.
Then Joe started in with even more violent threats; trying to break us down, the worst way he knew how, like calling me "a half-dead motherfucker!" When he started to get REALLY violent, my mother ran upstairs to get her pot out of the house so we could call the police. I told him that I wasn't scared of him and to "get out of our house now!" That made him even angrier, because his threats and bullying were futile against me. I guess he felt powerless. When he went to grab me, my mother jumped in between us and told him to get away from me. He grabbed her arm — the same arm I heard snap when my stepfather, Darrell, broke it in front of me when I was eight. Then Joe jerked her towards him. His breath was heaving and his eyes were wide with anger. My defenseless and pathetically weak mother had that familiar fear on her face and was meekly trying to fend him off. Nothing in me snapped — nothing flashed before my eyes; I remained calm and neutral. SOMEONE had to.
I refuse to live amid anger or fear. I looked directly into his crazed eyes; stared point-blank into his rage, as I'm sure no other woman ever has, especially a teenager. I spoke calmly and said, "Get off of my mother! Nobody touches her like that! Nobody will hurt my mother, especially not you! You are woman-beating trash — go back to jail!!!" (Joe did time for assault and kidnapping, among other things).
He was stunned for a minute, just like Darrell had been when I told him (practically) the same thing. But Joe's shock didn't last long. His flood of anger returned quickly enough for him to hurl my mother into a door that had a full-length mirror on it. She fell forward, holding her arm in pain. He was yelling even louder now but I still wasn't scared — my pulse didn't even raise enough for me to break into a sweat.
He started to holler, "ALL RIGHT, YEAH, NOW THAT I'VE GOT ALL OF YOU BITCHES UP HERE WE'RE GOING TO SEE SOME SHIT FLY! THE NEIGHBORS CAN'T CALL THE COPS NOW, BECAUSE THEY CAN'T HEAR YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!!!"
He was pushing things out of the way to get to me. By that time, I was on the bed, climbing to the window and yelling for help at the top of my lungs, "SOMEBODY CALL THE POLICE! HELP! HELP US! HELP MY MOM!"
He grabbed me and said, "What the fuck do you think you're doing, you cunt?!"
That's when he pinned me down on the bed and pulled my right arm back. My mother jumped up and grabbed him, and when he pushed her off, I had time to squirm away. Then my mother snatched the bag of pot — and we ran downstairs and out of our own house — for the hundredth time — while I screamed for help.
When we got to the car, I looked around. None of our neighbors were looking out their windows. They just hid inside the paper-thin, poorly-insulated condos we all lived in.
Joe had said if we left him, he would call the cops and tell them mom had an ounce of weed on her. So I told my mother to give me the drugs, so if he did call the cops, I'd say it was mine. She handed it to me and I bent the bag so that it fit into my pocket. We left for my mom's friend's house — as we had done so many times before — only this time mom didn't mention what had happened with Joe — she just dropped off the pot and then we left.
My mom called Joe from payphones four times; getting more frustrated each time — because he wouldn't leave OUR house. He said he would only leave if she gave him $700. (Last time it was $280). As I watched my mother smoking nervously at the payphone, I got her checkbook and hid it under the seat of the car.
Mother. Mommy. Mom.
Phone in one hand, cigarette in the other — her eyes shifting uneasily and her voice trembling; the fluorescent light of the phone booth was forming a halo above her head. It reminded me of my childhood, when I envisioned my mother as a saint, as my angel, like most young children do, despite any circumstances. For a moment, I was saddened by the corruption of my childhood fallacies — but my level-headedness found me again when I overheard her offering to drive Joe home! I heard her say that she would pick him up and take him back to his parents house.
I jumped out of the car and screamed, "YOU ARE NOT DRIVING HIM HOME! THERE'S NO WAY I WILL LET YOU BE ALONE IN A CAR WITH HIM FOR TWO HOURS!!!" (Joe had beaten her up in the car a few times before — he had tried to choke her to death; there had been bruises on her face and her throat). I started yelling and crying as we got back into the car. I kept telling her how scared I was for her, that she was the only parent I had left and that I couldn't bare to lose her. I begged, I pleaded, I ranted, I rationalized. I prayed. Then I got out of the car.
I took off walking in the opposite direction of our house. I had no idea where I was — or where I was going.
My mom didn't follow me at first — but pretty soon she pulled up next to me and told me to get in the car, unless I wanted to walk all the way home. After arguing with her for about ten minutes, I said, "If I get in the car, we have to drive right over to that payphone and you have to call the police. You have to show the cops the marks on your arms. Or we can stand here all night where at least I'll know you're safe."
A few seconds later my mother sped off, leaving me, her fifteen-year-old daughter, in the middle of an unfamiliar town — at midnight — afraid and alone. I sat down on a grassy hill near an intersection and cried. Then I walked back to the road and waited — half-hoping she'd be worried and come back for me.
She never came back for me.
It started to get cold. With the cold came drops of rain, so I looked for someplace to go. I found a bathroom with a broken door at a desolate gas station and went in there to cry some more. After I was out of tears, and could only whimper, I started praying.
I asked God, "Why?"
Why did this happen?
Why did I feel so much pain?
I prayed some more — and then the rain stopped. I started walking towards the highway. It was so dark that I could only see where I was going when cars drove by, minutes apart from each other. The sounds from the woods nearby and the emptiness of the highway reminded me of something out of a horror film. Faces of missing girls from the 6 o'clock news passed through my mind. Instead of scaring myself, I decided to pray some more. I asked God to help me and my mother get home safely.
I walked for almost an hour, keeping my eyes open for my mother's car. I was walking as fast as I could without running. I tried to walk with my head up. Even though I was tired — I tried to walk proudly. I felt more like a soldier of God, than a child of God. By now I had seen and felt so much, that I knew God was there with me — helping me and loving me when no one else would.
I began to watch for a police car to pass by; knowing that even if they arrested me for being out after curfew, they'd at least give me an $80 ride home. (Or at the VERY least they'd give me directions.) Finally a van drove by and I could see the bill of a boy's hat silhouetted through the passenger windows. The van slowed down and stopped a few feet ahead. I slowed my walking, cautiously. I was ready to run just in case.
The boy in the hat popped his head out of the window and said, "Are you Megan?"
I shook my head and the woman driver asked where I was headed. I told her and she was kind enough to offer me a ride, even though her destination was in the complete opposite direction. She was being very friendly and so were the boys around my age who were sitting in the back. They asked me how old I was.
I said I was fifteen and one of the boys asked if I'd be going into 11th grade. Embarrassed, I told them that I'd be in 9th next year. I felt bad for not being completely honest, but I said it was because my family moved around so much. The lady seemed understanding, but the boys said nothing.
When I got home, it felt so good to be here, without that tyrant Joe. I ate what was supposed to be my dinner before we had to run out of the house. A movie came on HBO about a murderer that killed people in stalled cars on the highway. I tried not to watch it.
Mom got home safe — but looked sad. She said Joe was "moody" on the way home. That could have meant anything.
Well, that was my Wednesday.
As if the thing with my mom's boyfriend, Joe, wasn't bad enough — my step-dad came by last night without even calling, asking for money. Darrell is my half-sister Nicole's biological dad; my step-dad — really. At least, I USED to think of him that way.
I hadn't seen Darrell this drunk and violent since mom was five months pregnant with Nicole and Darrell threw her on the bathroom floor. Then he threw me after her — then the phone — and then the phonebook, too. He told us we had a half hour to get the fuck out and never come back. I remember mom lying on her side — on the phone with her friend, Jane. She said that she thought her arm was broken, and that she couldn't walk. She had fresh bruises along her neck and arms — along with the old ones. I looked at what my HERO; my FATHER — had done. I was trembling — I could not even speak. I've never been so afraid in my entire life. I remembered how I had always wanted a father. Be careful what you wish for. That night ended like so many others; lying on Jane's cot — crying into a pillow. At least we were safe there.
My mom gave birth and nursed my baby sister with her broken arm. She had to work at a grocery store to make money. I'll never forget how sad and disappointing it all was — I had no daddy again, or dog. No house, not even an apartment. No friends, nothing of my own. I'll never forget it — and last night was no different.
When I was little, I was so proud of Darrell — I even bragged about him sometimes. I called him Daddy. I really looked up to him. I even wanted to be a housepainter just like him — even AFTER he started to do drugs and beat my mom up.
After a while, I just got scared of him, but I still loved him a lot — for who he'd been BEFORE the drugs. People would come to the house when mom wasn't home and sell him cocaine. I saw it once. I was in the second grade and he was babysitting me and Nicole when this shitty little white car pulled up in the driveway, blaring rap music. Two fat black guys with gold chains got out and came into the kitchen. Nicole started crying.
Darrell gave them money and they gave him a plastic bag full of white powder. It was coke. One of the guys was sucking on a little pipe. I asked what was in the bag and Darrell sent me outside.
I saw my friend Crystal out back and I told her to look through our kitchen window. Crystal peered in and then asked why there were black people in my house. In Saginaw, the town we lived in then, there were no black people at all. It was a very small town; it didn't even have any stores. Crystal told me how she was scared of black people, but since I had to go into Philly a lot, I had met a lot of black people and they were all really nice. I told all this to Crystal, but we were both still really scared about WHY these guys were in my house.
While my stepdad and his "friends" were inside the kitchen, I thought about the first time Darrell beat the shit out of me, when I was in first grade. It happened when I woke up one morning and walked into the living room. Darrell was sitting there watching TV, drinking a beer and eating a donut.
I hate donuts.
When I saw him there eating a donut (mom had bought a big box of them), I said to him, "You can have all the donuts."
Next thing I know he jumps up and starts screaming, "WHAT?! WHAT?"
Then he came after me — and hit me. Mom was still sleeping. It fucking hurt. I cried and cried, even after he was done. I tried to figure out why Darrell did that, and wondered if he thought I said, "You CAN'T have the rest of the donuts," like I was being a smart ass.
But then later, he came into my room, pulled me out of bed, sat me on his lap, handed me the donut he'd been eating and said, "Here. Eat that."
I guess that was Darrell's way of apologizing.
I walked in the house and before I closed the door behind me, I got that feeling. I knew something was wrong. I could feel it in the air. My mother looked at me, and didn't speak. My heart began to race. I felt sickened. How could this be happening?
We're moving away to the middle of nowhere — to Phoenixville!
Mom wants to make a "fresh" start. Thanks, mom.CHAPTER 2
Ever since we moved here, I feel like I've got nothing anymore. It's such a small town that friendships here have been established years ago, and there's no room for even one more.
Sometimes I just get so bored of emotions. Sometimes I just get so bored of everything and I wonder if I'll ever be myself again. Maybe I just need a nap — or a new life. I've never been this lonely, and I know how it feels to be lonesome. Being a teenager, being alive, is hard enough — but I am lost. It's like I'm in a new world, a foreign country, all by myself — and I've got to construct a new life.
When you know nobody, and nobody knows you, it's impossible to make friends by accident. I try to tag along discreetly, and aloof, but I end up seeming like the tag along I am: "Who's that girl? Why does she keep following us around?" I follow people, hoping for affection, acceptance — a home. From clique to clique, group to group, I follow, only to be kicked aside — and at the end of the day, I am always left alone, droopy-eyed, and miserable — like a lonely, unloved puppy with its tail between its legs, and misery in its heart. I can only hope, and keep inviting myself along, keep following the group, hoping they won't mind.
HA — I used to be a leader — the center of my group of subjects, and now I've been banished to an unfamiliar kingdom.
Two months ago I'd have NEVER been a tag along! And now I consider myself lucky if there's anybody around to tag along with.
Excerpted from Dear Nobody by GILLIAN McCAIN, LEGS McNEIL. Copyright © 2013 Gillian McCain and Legs McNeil. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Reading, PA: Late Fall, 1996,
Phoenixville, PA: Winter, 1997,
Phoenixville, PA: Spring, 1997,
Phoenixville, PA: Early Summer, 1997,
Wernersville, PA: Summer, 1997,
Phoenixville, PA: Summer, 1997,
Phoenixville, PA: Late Summer, 1997,
Phoenixville, PA: Late Summer, 1997,
Wernersville, PA: Late Summer, 1997,
Phoenixville, PA: Fall, 1997,
Phoenixville, PA: Winter, 1997–1998,
Phoenixville, PA: Spring, 1998,
Phoenixville, PA: Summer, 1998,
Wernersville, PA: Summer 1998,
Phoenixville, PA: Fall, 1998,
Children's Clinic of Philadelphia: Winter, 1998–1999,
Phoenixville, PA: Winter, 1999,
Children's Clinic of Philadelphia: Winter, 1999,
About the Authors,