Mary John

Mary John

Ana Pessoa & Bernardo P. Carvalho

Original Title
Mary John
Planeta Tangerina, 2016
Young adult
Rights Sold
Brazilian Portuguese
Spanish (Latin America)
Spanish (EU)
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Mary John

Ana Pessoa & Bernardo P. Carvalho

In a long letter addressed to Júlio the Pirate, a young woman reflects on the childhood and teenage years spent on the little square where they both lived. We follow the beginnings of their friendship, the special bond that unites them, and how Júlio comes to be important in the life of Maria João (or Mary John as he prefers to call her). But are the feelings mutual? Júlio confuses her, plays with her and, above all, exerts a power over Maria João that does not let her move forward. What begins as an angry love letter becomes a story of unpacking the ghosts of the past in this truly unromantic, deeply feminist and lyrical coming-of-age story.

Ana Pessoa, born in Lisbon in 1982, began writing stories at the age of 10 and finished her studies in Modern Languages and Literatures (Portuguese and German Studies) at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Lisbon. Since 2007, she lives in Brussels where she also works as a translator. Pessoa’s books, often illustrated by Bernardo P. Carvalho and Joana Estrela, have received several awards in Portugal as well as internationally.

Mary John recived the Premios TodosTusLibros for best YA book of the year 2023! The jury’s praise: “Written in epistolary form and illustrated with blue vignettes, Mary John is a novel that reflects the adolescent voice very well. It is a story of personal growth, very real, very well written, with very powerful phrases, which is not the typical love story. It highlights how to feel good about your own decisions, banishing bad habits and bad relationships.”

Press voices

The book is more than an epistolary novel. In its essence, it ends up being a journal, as the letter stretches further through time and ends up swallowing this girl’s entire life – her longing for a place, a voice and a path of her own. Ana Pessoa encloses all the echoes of this discovery process within a rich, flexible prose that breathes adventure. Nevertheless, it still sticks to a genuine tone, with believable dialogues that are accessible to their target audience.” JOSÉ MÁRIO SILVA, EXPRESSO NEWSPAPER

The beauty of the story is that the themes of coming-of-age and finding your identity are universal so the novel could be set in any country and in any era. Aside from a few mentions of Portuguese culture and traditions, Mary John is really a global and timeless story (…)Mary John is about childhood, first love, maturing, and finding your way in the world, and Pessoa’s novel is one that will ring true with readers of either gender (…) Highly recommended.” Canadian Review of Materials

The author is masterfully adept at describing the cosmos of maturing teens. (…) She writes in an authentic language that captures the protagonists’ sense of life and closely orients itself to their pulse. In an astonishing way, her newest book does all this and more. “Mary John” sets itself apart from the author’s previous novels by its even more coherent storytelling, its undisguised, intense language, and the deep insight it offers into the emotional world of the protagonist and first-person narrator. (…)” – White Ravens 2017

Books by Ana Pessoa

Winner of the Premi Llibreter 2022 Award (Youth literature category)

Selected, Best Books of the Year, Banco del Libro, Venezuela, 2020

Selected, White Ravens Catalogue, International Youth Library, 2017

Recommended, IBBY Catalogue for Youth Literature, Mexico, 2020

Recommended, Fundacion Cuatrogatos Award, USA, 2020

Recommended, Portuguese National Reading List

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