Feral Maril and Her Little Brother Carol

Fiction - Literary
332 Pages
Reviewed on 04/03/2024
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Author Biography

I am an award-winning novelist who loves writing about grown-ups (GAGA, MAGGIE’S DREAM, and KNOCK ON WOOD) and young adults (FERAL MARIL & HER LITTLE BROTHER CAROL, UPSIDE DOWN IN A LAURA INGALLS TOWN, I AM ELEPHANT, I AM BUTTERFLY, and RULES OF FALLING). I especially love digging into universal ideas such as friendship, bravery, and self-forgiveness. When I'm not spending quality time with the characters in my head, I speak at libraries, schools, and book clubs. I am proudly represented by the TriadaUS Literary Agency.

FERAL MARIL & HER LITTLE BROTHER CAROL, about a young girl who aims to steal back her mentally challenged brother when they are separated by the foster care system, took me nearly eight years to write (in between other projects). It took many hours of research into the NC foster care system, as well as a lot of emotional wear. But once her story was complete, I knew that Marilyn Jones had grown into something really special. By digging into her journey--both psychological and literal--I found pieces of myself that I'd left behind in my childhood. I hope that others reading the book will find pieces of themselves as well. A perfect book-club read, there are discussion questions at the end of the book, as well as information regarding foster care and drug rehabilitation. Thank you for taking the time to visit my page. I hope you enjoy the book!

    Book Review

Reviewed by Stephanie Chapman for Readers' Favorite

Leslie Tall Manning’s novel Feral Maril and Her Little Brother Carol is divided into five different parts and narrated by Marilyn. The first section tells how Carolyn, despite being a boy, was given a female name. Marilyn and Carol were placed in a foster home after a social worker witnessed their mother slapping Marilyn. The second part shows Marilyn thriving before being reunited with her mother. She received money from someone she believed was the Tan Man of her memories. Marilyn’s world was disrupted in part three when her mother went to prison. She was utterly distraught when her father sent Carol into foster care. In the fourth section, Marilyn rescued Carol from an unfit foster home where he was chained in the bathtub. The last part depicts Marilyn and Carol joining a carnival to evade law enforcement.

Leslie Tall Manning excelled at writing an original, unpredictable tale seen through the eyes of a child forced to grow up too soon. I found the writing style interesting, as it seemed to evolve as Marilyn grew. The language in the first section matched the speech of a five-year-old. As she got older, her diction improved dramatically. The transitions from one event to the next were easy to follow. Marilyn’s emotions and turmoil were realistic and vivid. I couldn’t help but feel anger at the deplorable circumstances in which Marilyn had found her brother. The vivid description of their living conditions was heartbreaking. The plot twists increased Marilyn and Carol’s instability by adding the supporting characters. Carol could not speak or do basic tasks, which made it hard for Marilyn to care for him. Basic hygiene and a fascination with climbing to dangerous heights were some of Carol’s idiosyncrasies. The end of the story was bittersweet. Feral Maril and Her Little Brother Carol will appeal to readers who enjoy realistic stories told through a child’s eyes.