Marina, a fourteen-year-old recently transferred from a mental hospital to a boarding school, can't speak. Her muteness is a reaction to trauma; in a moment of fury at her mother, her father threw photographic acid in the car window and, instead of hitting his wife, hit his daughter's face. Severely scarred, both inside and outside, resentful of her mother and bewildered by her father's pain, anger, and now imprisonment for assault, she records her daily life tentatively in a journal assigned, but not read by, a favorite English teacher at her new school.

The girls in her dorm have been apprised of her problem and treat her mostly with respect, but only one of them is fully able to keep making the moves that open a door to friendship. Despite Marina's silence, even in sessions with the school counselor, she begins to heal as she makes her journal (the text of the story) a safe place, allows herself to be included in the family lives of her teacher and friend, and finally summons the courage to visit her father, with whom she retrieves the language she needs, finding, as the title suggests, she has "so much to tell him."


The author, an elementary school teacher, renders convincingly and compassionately the thoughts and feelings of a scarred and hurting young girl. The journal entries are appropriately various and shifting in emotional tone and articulateness. Marina's memories come out gradually; even in the journal she doesn't venture at first beyond safe observations about daily life at the school. As the exercise becomes more familiar, she allows herself more complexity of feeling and writing.

Her feelings toward her parents--a mother by whom she feels betrayed and abandoned, and a father who in confusion has scarred her irreparably--go through various moments of change until she is able to realize she needs and wants reconnection. It is a realistic story about trauma and healing, potentially helpful for any young person who has felt the need to retreat in some way from painful contact even (or especially) with those whose presence is most needful.


Fawcett Juniper

Place Published

New York



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