Reynolds, Marilyn 1935-

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Reynolds, Marilyn 1935-

(Marilyn M. Reynolds)

PERSONAL: Born September 13, 1935, in CA; daughter of Fay (a meat market owner) and Esther (a homemaker) Dodson; married, c. 1956 (divorced); married Michael Reynolds (a musician), 1967; children: (first marriage) Cindi, Sharon; (second marriage) Matthew. Ethnicity: “Caucasian.” Education: California State University, Los Angeles, B.A., 1965, teaching credential, 1967; Pepperdine University, M.S., 1981; attended Pacific Oaks College, 1980, and California State University, 1997-98.

ADDRESSES: Home—Gold River, CA. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Teacher and writer. High school English teacher in Hacienda Heights, CA, 1967-69; teacher of English as a second language at public schools in Alhambra and Monrovia, CA, 1969-72; high school teacher in Alhambra, 1972-93; writer in residence, consultant, and tutor, 1993-98; Calvine High School, Elk Grove, CA, teacher, 1999-2001; lecturer, workshop presenter, and writer. Pacific Oaks College, instructor, 1982-83.

MEMBER: PEN, National Education Association, National Council of Teachers of English, Assembly of Literature for Adolescents, California Teachers Associatition, California Reading Association, Screen Writers’ Association of Santa Barbara, Altadena Writers Association, Sacramento Area Library Association.

AWARDS, HONORS: “Best books for young adults” citation, American Library Association, 1994, for Detour for Emmy, 1995, for Too Soon for Jeff; South Carolina Young Adult Book Award, 1995-96, for Detour for Emmy; “best books for the teen age”designation, New York Public Library, for Detour for Emmy, 1996, for But What about Me?, 1998, for Beyond Dreams, 1999, for Baby Help, 2000, for If You Loved Me, and 2002, for Love Rules.



Telling (novel), Peace Ventures Press (Altadena, CA), 1989, revised edition, Morning Glory Press (Buena Park, CA), 1996.

Detour for Emmy (novel), Morning Glory Press (Buena Park, CA), 1993.

Too Soon for Jeff (novel), Morning Glory Press (Buena Park, CA), 1994.

Beyond Dreams (short stories), illustrated by Laura Manriquez, Morning Glory Press (Buena Park, CA), 1995.

But What about Me? (novel), Morning Glory Press (Buena Park, CA), 1996.

Baby Help (novel), Morning Glory Press (Buena Park, CA), 1998.

If You Loved Me (novel), Morning Glory Press (Buena Park, CA), 1999.

Love Rules (novel), Morning Glory Press (Buena Park, CA), 2001.

No More Sad Goodbyes (novel), Morning Glory Press (Buena Park, CA), 2007.

Author of teaching guides for all these titles.


I Won’t Read and You Can’t Make Me: Reaching Reluctant Teen Readers, Heinemann (Portsmouth, NY), 2004.

Contributor to books, including Among Us, Peace Ventures Press (Altadena, CA), 1989; and to Filtered Images, Fathers and Daughters, and Mothers and Sons. Contributor of essays and short fiction to periodicals, including Sonoma Mandala, Event, English Journal, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and Pasadena.

ADAPTATIONS: Too Soon for Jeff was adapted for television as an “ABC Afterschool Special” by American Broadcasting Companies, 1997.

SIDELIGHTS: Marilyn Reynolds worked as a teacher for many years before putting pen to paper to begin what has become a fulfilling second career as a writer. In 1989 her first novel, Telling, was published; it would be the first of several books Reynolds would author that focus on the troubled lives of modern teens. Among her most popular works are the “True-to-Life” series, books that focus on specific problems common to teens, which are accompanied by teaching guides to make them convenient for classroom use.

Reynolds was raised in Temple City, California, where her father owned a meat market. While not exactly a motivated student during high school, she returned to college in her late twenties, graduated, and earned her teaching certificate as well as an advanced degree. In 1978, after the second of her three children left home, she finally indulged in a long-held desire to write, and three years later witnessed the publication of her first work, an essay in the Los Angeles Times. With her name now in print, Reynolds was energized; her byline has appeared on numerous short stories, essays, and articles since.

In Reynolds’s first teen novel, Telling, when the Sloane family moves to a new town, twelve-year-old neighbor Cassie Jenkins believes she has found cool new babysitting clients. However, Mr. Sloane makes a sexual advance toward her while bringing her home from babysitting his children. Cassie is embarrassed and confused about her feelings; after she tells a confidant, it seems like everyone suddenly knows what happened. Frances Bradburn dubbed this novel “sad, frightening, ultimately hopeful, and definitely worthwhile” in a Booklist assessment. Critic Marilyn Makowski also praised Reynolds’s debut novel, commenting in School Library Journal that the author does “a superb job of weaving the complexities of difficult issues into the life of an innocent child.” In Voice of Youth Advocates contributor Joyce A. Litton believed Telling could be “very helpful to girls who have been sexually abused.”

In another installment in Reynolds’s series, a young woman must struggle between remaining true to her core beliefs or retaining the love of her boyfriend. But What about Me? introduces Erica Arrendondo, a high school senior, who, with a spot on the school volleyball team, a part-time volunteer job at the local animal shelter, and a dream of becoming a veterinarian, seems to have it together. But her boyfriend is headed straight downhill and wants to drag her along with him. “The characters are compelling and the novel itself [is] almost impossible to put down,” said School Library Journal reviewer Robyn Ryan Vandenbroek, who called Reynolds’ writing “superb.”

In Baby Help a young teen mother is living with her baby’s teen father at his mother’s house. Melissa suddenly confronts the fact that her boyfriend is becoming as abusive to their child as he is to her. “Reynolds carefully explores the problem of partner abuse,” noted Bradburn in another Booklist review. In School Library Journal, Melissa Gross described the dialogue as “authentic” and “likely to hold the interest of reluctant readers.” Reynolds explores the problem of a drug-addicted parent as seen through seventeen-year-old Laura’s eyes as she tries to hold the line against a boyfriend enticing her to break her long-held promise to remain a virgin until marriage in If You Loved Me.

In an essay for the Something about the Author Autobiography Series, Reynolds offered the following advice to young people: “First, pay attention to your innermost hopes and dreams. If someone tells you you’re not good enough to be an artist, a dancer, or whatever, know that the important thing is the strength within you, not another person’s judgment. Find people with whom you can feel safe exchanging thoughts and feelings on the deepest level available to you, and cherish such people above all else.” And, most importantly, “Love yourself, even when you are tormented by stupid mistakes and the consequences they bring.”

Reynolds told CA: “These days, when I visit schools and talk with students, they often ask if I always knew if I wanted to be a writer. The truth is I had no idea about being a writer until I was in my late twenties, and then it took me another twenty years to begin to submit my writing for publication.

“For decades my writing consisted of weekly shopping lists, comments on my students’ papers, and yellow Post-its stuck to the refrigerator door, asking one of my kids to empty the trash or feed the dog. It was not until my second daughter left home that I found a quiet space for my typewriter and considered writing for a broader audience than my kids and the local grocer.

“In 1981 I took a class in creative writing at a nearby college. As I worked on an assignment calling for a childhood remembrance, scenes from my life when I was six (in 1942) came to me as fast as I would write them down. The remembrances dealt with my affections for a Japanese family, and with my feelings surrounding their internment in a relocation camp.

“When that essay, ‘Down in Infamy,’ was published in the Los Angeles Times, I was surprised and touched to receive many letters telling me how much my writing had meant to individual readers. It was such a satisfying experience; I was hooked. For several years I wrote personal essays, both humorous and serious, many of which were published in national newspapers and small literary magazines.

“Although I had a few small writing successes, my real job, the job that put food on the table, was teaching at an alternative high school in southern California. Most of my students lived difficult lives, and many of them entered my English/reading classroom having never once read a whole book. Because I wanted to help my students gain the breadth and freedom that had come my own way through a reading habit, I was determined to introduce every single one of them to the joy of reading. I was always on the lookout for books that they would find meaningful or entertaining. Mostly they wanted to read stories that offered a realistic portrayal of life as they knew it. Since these books weren’t always easy to find, I decided to try writing a book myself, for readers like my own students. I chose to write about a twelve-year-old girl who is being molested by a neighbor.

“Statistics indicate that one out of three girls and one out of six boys will have an unwanted sexual experience with an adult before they reach the age of eighteen. Sexual molestation seemed an important subject for teen fiction. As a wrote Telling, I brought each chapter of the evolving manuscript into my classroom and kept the pages in a big, green, three-holed notebook. Students delighted in pointing out errors in spelling or punctuation. Sometimes a student would tell me, ‘This part sounds stupid’ or ‘I don’t think Cassie would act like this.’ Often I rewrote a section or changed dialogue, based on students’ insights.

“Since that first book, I have written several more books of realistic teen fiction in the ‘True-to-Life’ series set at Hamilton High. These books all deal with difficult issues and situations that many teens must face, such as teen pregnancy, rape, racism, abortion, school failure, lack of family support, sexual identity crises, sexual abstinence, mixed-race heritage, and so on. And, even though I’m now retired from full-time teaching, I never write a book without visiting classrooms and getting advice and critiques from teenagers.

“It seems that whenever I think I may go back to writing essays or write my memoir, I get a letter from a reader who says something like, ‘Your book helped me see that my life was not lost.’ The message might be from a teacher, saying, ‘Your books have turned nonreaders into insatiable readers, as well as having opened up areas for sensitive discussions.’ Then I think about what my readers ask for during school visits: something about suicide, or drugs, or gangs, or terminal disease, or the loss of a parent… and I’m again struck by how important it is to explore life through realistic fiction. I open a computer file titled ‘No Easy Answers,’ which has been the original working title for every book I’ve ever written, and which will hold true for the next one. “Speaking of the next one, if someone has more story ideas for me, or wants to send other comments, feel free to e-mail me. If you want to know more about my teaching experiences and philosophy, you can find that in my one nonfiction book, I Won’t Read and You Can’t Make Me: Reaching Reluctant Teen Readers. Whatever you do, keep nurturing your reading habit—it will make a difference in your life.”



Something about the Author Autobiography Series, Volume 23, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1996, pp. 247-265.


Arizona Republic, March 6, 2000, David Madrid, “Teen Sex Enough for Dysart to Ban Book from Schools,” p. Bl.

Booklist, September 15, 1994, Jeanne Triner, review of Too Soon for Jeff, p. 126; November 15, 1995, Jeanne Triner, review of Beyond Dreams, p. 548; April 2, 1996, Frances Bradburn, review of Telling, p. 1356; February 1, 1998, Frances Bradburn, review of Baby Help, p. 911; September 1, 1999, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of If You Loved Me, p. 124.

Publishers Weekly, June 28, 1993, review of Detour for Emmy, p. 79.

School Library Journal, July, 1993, Alice Casey Smith, review of Detour for Emmy, p. 102; September, 1994, Judy R. Johnston, review of Too Soon for Jeff, p. 241; September, 1995, Susan R. Farber, review of Beyond Dreams, p. 220; May, 1996, Marilyn Makowski, review of Telling, p. 116; October, 1996, Robyn Ryan Vandenbroek, review of But What about Me?, p. 148; May, 1998, Melissa Gross, review of Baby Help, p. 216; December, 1999, Susan R. Farber, review of If You Loved Me, p. 140.

Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 1993, Anne Lie-bst, review of Detour for Emmy, p. 298; February, 1996, Carrie Eldridge, review of Beyond Dreams, p. 376; June, 1996, Joyce A. Litton, review of Telling, p. 99; February, 1997, Jacqueline Rose, review of But What about Me?, p. 332; June, 1998, Carrie Eldridge, review of Baby Help, p. 124.

Wilson Library Bulletin, May, 1995, review of Too Soon for Jeff, p. 110.


Marilyn Reynolds Home Page, (April 4, 2008).

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Reynolds, Marilyn 1935-

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