Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Review: The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds by Paul Zindel

Title: The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds
Author: Paul Zindel
Genre: Plays
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published: 1964
Pages: 112

Rating - 9 out of 10

This heart wrenching story is probably my favorite play of all time.
Written from the innocent, simplistically factual view of a bright young middle-schooler, Tillie, we are introduced to a tense family scene where love and hate often blur in indistinguishable lines. 
Tilly is a quiet girl with dreams of one day making important scientific discoveries. For now, she is hard at work on a project for her school's science fair, experimenting with marigolds whose seeds have been exposed to radioactivity. The two supporting characters, her sister Ruth and her embittered mother Beatrice, are some of the strongest characters I have ever read.
This book is short, concise, and easy to get through, writing at the approximate level of a middle schooler. However, the story-line remains entirely adult, mature, and haunting. Regardless of its number of pages, this is one of the most powerful books I have ever read.
Paul Zindel has brilliantly combined childhood with mature and sobering conflicts - this book is depressing and a bit disturbing, unabashedly honest, and extraordinarily written.
Highly recommended - a must read.