I heard stuff about this book, stuff I wasn’t all too happy with, but even with that I couldn’t hide my curiosity for this book. So I was delighted when one of my libraries had this book in Dutch. I reserved it immediately, and set to reading it pretty fast.
The book is set in two times. Ours (2017), and Mary’s (1982). There are two girls, Ella and Mary. Two different lives, but both girls aren’t happy.
Ella moved away from her old place to this new place. She is living right next to Thornhill (though it is pretty much broken down now). She doesn’t have the easiest lives. Her mom died (or left). No this is not a spoiler it is pretty much obvious from the start. Her father keeps on working and leaving his kid alone all the time. I get that he has to work, but really? Who leaves their daughter alone so much? She also needs a parent. She needs someone to talk to..
Ella spots someone (or something) at the Thornhill place, and so her adventure begins. She starts finding dolls (dolls we also see in Mary’s story), and she is going to fix them (which I really loved. It is not the easiest hobbies to have, at least from my understanding. So I was happy she was willing to go through all that to help out that mysterious girl). Slowly she finds out more about the house, about Mary, but it isn’t until she finds a diary that the whole story comes out.
Mary lives in Thornhill. She is an orphan, and she is bullied terribly. Why? Well, because kids will be kids. Mary is a bit different from the group of kids there. She has selective mutism so she isn’t a chatterbox, she prefers her dolls and her books over interaction (then again I would also hide in my room if I had such a demon in my life). Throughout the book we see the bully situation escalate as Thornhill empties out (due to various reasons). It was quite hard to read at times, being a victim of lots of bullying myself. But I soldiered on, as I wanted to know if Mary would find happiness in the end. If she would find someone she can trust, and who can help her.
Especially in the later parts, when Thornhill empties out, the story gets more and more sad with each diary entry. So yeah, if you come here to see happy endings for Mary? Stay away.
I was just horrified how that girl ruined Mary’s life. How she not only did things like remove clothes, or destroy/hide stuff. She also went to Mary’s room at night to scratch at the door, to hit the door in repetitive moves, and I could go on. This girl is highly disturbed. But does anyone do anything? No. Even though Mary stays silent, so many people know this is happening. But no one does anything. It is the standard fare around again, the victim needs to speak up. Which I think is absolutely poppycock. You know it may get worse if you talk. You know people may not believe you. You know that people will probably do something shitty instead.
I loved that Mary’s parts were in text (diary), whereas Ella’s were all illustrations telling the story. I loved this format in other books I have read and I look forward to see more books like those and this one.
I am a bit confused to the ending (and some other parts) of the story.
I am a bit worried about the last few pages with the new guy. I hope he doesn't follow the same path as Ella, as Mary. But I fear he will just be one of them soon. Mary is filling the house up again. But also again, why now? Why 35 years after?
All in all, I really loved reading this one, even though it did break my heart many many times. I do want to warn people, the bullying is really terrible. You may not feel any happiness when you are done reading this one.