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Young Adult Fiction 795
How do you become the main character of your own story?
(Updated: April 18, 2022)
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Marnie Barnes wishes she were like her favorite heroine, Lizzie Bennet. After several kerfuffles, Marnie realizes the devastating truth: she isn't Lizzie Bennet. She's Lizzie's unlikable, pedantic middle sister, Mary. Seeking to change her story, Marnie sets a plan to leave Mary Bennet behind and become someone better. Once Marnie gets out of her comfort zone with the help of supporting friends and even a supporting sister or two, Marnie starts to see that maybe there isn't anything wrong with herself or with Mary. Maybe it's less about changing yourself and more about accepting yourself.

BEING MARY BENNET is a cute retelling of Pride and Prejudice with a strong voice. Austen retellings are never in short supply in YA or Adult fiction, but recently, there has been an increase in retellings from different perspectives, such as Mary and Georgianna. I particularly enjoyed the focus on the "Mary" character in BEING MARY BENNET. Marnie isn't immediately likeable like most consider her sisters to be. She likes sharing statistics and facts, she values organization and accomplishments, and she isn't the smoothest at social interactions. At times, she can be petty and even occasionally mean. I love Marnie's journey in learning that everyone has their own strengths and their own flaws. What one person considers uptight, another may see thorough or dedicated. The important lesson is to embrace yourself as you are, rather than trying to wear someone else's personality, and to surround yourself with people that encourage and support you.

While I love the voice and Marnie's character arc, I wasn't as sold on the romance. Whit felt a little flat, and I would have loved more scenes with him and Marnie getting to know each other on a deeper level, especially since they spent a good portion of the story misinterpreting each other's signals.

Overall, BEING MARY BENNET is an ode to the Mary Bennets of the world. You do not have to be Lizzies or even Janes to be incredible.

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