Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ragdoll Redeemed - Growing up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe by Dawn Novotny WITH an Author Interview!

"Ragdoll Redeemed - Growing up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe" 
Dawn Novotny, LCSW, MTS
and a "GIVEAWAY" of one copy of this book!

"ONE" of you lucky Readers out there in the US or Canada will WIN A COPY OF THIS BOOK from the Author, Dawn Novotny, LCSW, MTS! Just fill out the form at the very end of this Post! You can ENTER this contest through  Sunday, May 20th, 2012!

There is the world that celebrities live in...a world full of photographers, limos, and more. And then there's the world the rest of us inhabit. Meatloaf, carpool, and paying the rent. Rarely do those two worlds collide. Dawn Novotny grew up in a world of trailer parks and hand-me-down clothes. But through a twist of fate she ended up in the other world. She married into the royal family of baseball: the DiMaggios. When she married Joe DiMaggio Jr. he decided to transform her into his recently deceased stepmother: Marilyn Monroe. Now that's a tough act to follow!

In her memoirDawn tells the story of her plunge into Marilyn's world and the years she spent trying to escape the shadow of Marilyn and of her childhood poverty and abuse. RagDoll Redeemed is a story of overcoming one of the most overwhelming obstacles: the negative things we believe about ourself.

We all face obstacles in our lives. Some days it seems just too tough to go on, battling against our problems. The memoir, RagDoll Redeemed: Growing Up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe will be an inspiration to everyone who reads it, no matter what demons they face in their own life. RagDoll Redeemed is the story of Dawn Novotny's triumph over the problems that seemed destined to conquer her.

Early on, Dawn learned that her body could get her things she wanted . . . not luxuries like diamond rings or fancy clothes, but simple things we all take for granted like food and safety. As the years passed, Dawn began a search for that thing all teenage girls want more than anything: love. She thought she found it with Jo DiMaggio Jr. but quickly learned that, like all the other men in her life, he was just interested in a trade. If she would fulfill his Marilyn fantasies, he would give her safety. But she wasn't Marilyn . . . she was DawnRagDoll Redeemed is the story of Dawn's realization that she would have to provide her own safety and her long journey to discover what love truly was.

For 50 years, whether consciously or unconsciously, women have all been caught in the cultural clash between the almost immortal sexual mystique symbolized by Marilyn Monroe (in 1999 she was still voted “sexiest woman of the century” by People Magazine) and the retooling of the female soul by the women’s liberation movement.  Each of us has been left to ask ourselves, “Who am I?” “Where do I fit?”  “What does it mean to be a woman?” And most important of all: “What does it mean to me to be a woman?”
Dawn Novotny writes about her struggle with those questions, but for Dawn it was more difficult to answer those questions. After all, she was married to Joe DiMaggio Jr. a man who was fascinated with his stepmother, Marilyn Monroe, and wanted to transform Dawn into his own version of Marilyn. RagDoll Redeemed is the story of one woman’s balancing act between embracing her sexuality and creating a person that utilized all her abilities: mental, emotional and physical.

From the back of the book:

In 1963, I was just 17. I thought God had finally come through for me. Out of nowhere appeared my dashing Prince Charming. Married within three months, I was sure this was the redemption from my ragdoll beginnings. Though I had lived in the shadow of illegitimacy, bludgeoning poverty, physical and sexual abuse, I was sure I would prove worthy to my bridegroom. After all, I had remained a virgin. How was I to know that he expected me to be an aggressive sex-pot, or "whore" as he put it, modeled after the persona of his famous step-mother, Marilyn Monroe? Thus began my ill-fated effort to compete with the sexual image of Marilyn. Divorced after two years, I found myself-as I saw it-"used goods." Ironically, I reacted by becoming just what Joey had wanted- an alcoholic and a sex-object-not only in men's eyes but in my own.

About the Author - Dawn Novotny, LCSW, MTS

About the Author Dawn Novotny is a licensed clinician, teacher, author, and workshop leader, with a private practice in Sequim, Washington for the last twenty-seven years. She holds Master's degrees in clinical social work, and theology, and is a nationally certified psychotherapistdramatist, has been an adjunct professor at Seattle University and an instructor at Peninsula Community College. Dawn brings her training and insights from her work in psychodrama to the page as an author of many articles about making ones implicit feelings explicit through the art forms of collage and the concreteness of exploring your life though self-representation or psychodrama. She feels passionate about the importance of personal stories as healing and transformation. Dawn has been in a writing group with Linda Joy Myers for over three years where she has written numerous stories, and her memoir. 
Dawn can be reached at these places:

My Take:
5 Stars and then MORE!!!!
I am going to apologize for the length of this review, but this book really hit me! It is an AMAZING story about an AMAZING woman! Dawn Novotny, NOT a 'made-into' Marilyn Monroe! 

Most of my Followers know I don't particularly like to read Memoirs NOR 'rate a memoir' because I feel "I" cannot "rate" another person's life. Well, let me tell you this book is a MUST-READ, MUST-HAVE, MUST-EVERYTHING! WOW, book! When I was asked if I would review this book, I immediately said yes because the information about the book, and someone living through what was described to me was at the very least, intriguing. I 'had' to read this story. This story is sadly and unbelievably TRUE, but has an AMAZING outcome! Yes, I use the word, amazing, quite a bit, but it truly is. 
In "Ragdoll Redeemed, Growing Up in the Shadows of Marilyn Monroe", is a book that will surely open your eyes to a world you may NEVER knew existed, or thought you knew, but NEVER to this extent. Nor would you EVER expect a person like the late Joe DiMaggio Jr., to be the type of person to turned out to be who he really was. Wow! Here it is 'in print' about the life of Dawn Novotny and her ability to overcome obstacles I never could have imagined. 
This author has gone through things in her life that we ONLY see 'in the movies', or in a book that is fiction, and for a "short time". This was Dawn's entire life, from infancy, and well into her adulthood, truer than true.

Dawn Novotny has written a memoir of her life, a life that is truly unimaginable to most people, like myself, until I read it. Wow! I have to say she does have a knack for writing! Her writing flows beautifully and although the subject matter is at times rancid, she keeps you glued to the page in awe of what she has lived through. Again, even though the subject matter is very abusive, sickening, and more, her writing is amazing. She truly has a talent for writing, and I hope to see her write more in other genres, of course! 
About the book, the abuse done to Dawn started immediately from birth. Her mother was dirt poor, and their disabled Grandmother lived with them, and she, at times, was Dawn's saving grace, believe it or not! From dumpster diving for food, (an occasionally finding a ragdoll or two that could be cleaned up), to having to kill chickens in order to eat dinner, to sexual abuse from every man she came into contact with just about, beginning with her mother's boyfriend's or many husband's, even from the men in the dumpy neighborhood she lived in as a child. This story is so intriguing because it is almost unbelievable, but it is the God's honest truth of what she lived through. Yes, there were some parts of this book I just could NOT read because it was so sickening. HOW a person could do such things to a CHILD, or to anyone, for that matter, I do not know, NOR can I understand it. The part that got me was that 'no one' intervenes for her, and as a matter of fact, she is blamed for these occurrences rather than grabbed up and protected like she should have been. I just wanted to reach out and grab this little girl and hug her! I wanted to take her away from all of this, but it is a story. A true story, and so real. This gets Dawn into a cycle of self-belief, too, that she carries with her into adulthood, as well, of, 'it's her fault', 'she brought it on'. I got very emotionally invested into this book. I will never forget this book, nor how Dawn eventually gets OUT of this cycle! This is the BEST PART! 
So her life continues on into her teenage years, and all through the rest of her life. What really caught my attention about this book was her marriage to Joe DiMaggio Jr. at the age of 17! After he mother found out that the boy/man she was dating was Joe DiMaggio's 'son', she was beside herself! I think she saw a big ticket out of their poverty. This got Dawn pushed to not even graduate High School, but to marry Joey. Thankfully, Dawn knew she wanted to graduate school first, and did put her foot down. After graduation, she was married off into the DiMaggio Dynasty, and it was not what she thought marriage would be like by far! She didn't even fit into this class of people. Dinner parties, restaurants, and other social engagements came and Dawn did not even know how to use a napkin the proper way, let alone know how to use the rows of silverware lined up next to her plate. The first few days of marriage to Joe DiMaggio Jr she learned that he turned out to be an abusive man just like all the other men Dawn had come across or knew. She just could not stop this cycle. This made her turn to alcohol, drugs, or anything to numb her pain, which is so understandable given her circumstances. Life continues on, Joe files for divorce, but the divorce takes forever; years. Divorce, at that time, required a reason. DiMaggio held that over Dawn's head for years. Joey was infatuated with his step-mother, Marilyn Monroe, and wanted Dawn to be the spitten image. He wanted her to look, to dress and to act just like her. Ugh! The book delves deeper into that dysfunction as well.
Years after her divorce, and a few other failed marriages, failed relationships, and what she felt was a failed life, something happened and she started to change. Through a LOT of hard work, therapy, schooling, and more, you can see how she learned to teach herself to overcome ALL of the abuse, the adversity, the negativity and more! Today, she SMILES! She is optimistic, funny, and HAPPY! You would NEVER know what she has been through when you talk to her!  In her Author photo, you see she is grinning from ear to ear, and I find this AMAZING! This IS Dawn's life written for the world to see. Yes, this book is Non-Fiction, a Memoir, but it is a memoir unlike any other Memoir you have ever read. Everything she lived through is written in a way that you become obsessed into reading it. It takes you time to read this book, even if it is only  177 pages long, and seems short. It is not. There is so much in this story that  you cannot just fly through. You end up reading this book slower to take all of it in. You want to know what happens next, how did she make it through these different things that happened, HOW could no one help her? HOW could this all be possible? I think I now understand WHY the school systems teach children at a young age about 'good touch vs bad touch', and other things children may need to know because of things like this. Children NEED to be taught because they do not know what is or is not right if no one teaches them, such as in Dawn's case.  Otherwise, they could go on living just like Dawn lived for most of her life. I truly pray no other person has to live like this ever. 

I also learned from this book that no matter 'where' you are in life, if you are homeless, in a Women's Shelter, living with your parents, or on your own with children, life CAN be changed for the POSITIVE! It just takes the realization that it NEEDS to be done, a LOT of work and help to rise above, but it CAN be done! This book takes us from the deepest depths of dark negativity to the bright and shining days of today! Today Dawn has a husband and family, and is thriving! 
All in all, though, Dawn is the wonderful person she is today because of what she went through. Why some people end up having to go through such torment at times, I do not know why, but, if a person can make it through and come out like she has, what an accomplishment! I say CONGRATULATIONS!!!

 This is a photo of the newlyweds, Dawn and Joe DiMaggio Jr., the day they were married. This photo is courtesy of WOW - Women on Writing. They 'look' happy then, in the beginning, until
Dawn learned more about DiMaggio, Jr. These smiles quickly left.


1. Now that your ENTIRE life is in print, out for the public to see, I know that has helped you to overcome almost your ENTIRE LIFE of abuse, do you have family or friends out there that have been shocked that you wrote this and have attacked you with words as to WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO "THEM"?

Dawn: Most of the problem people in my life have passed away. Fortunately, my husband and children are proud of me.

2. You smile today!!!! Wow!!! I give you SOOOO much CREDIT!!!!! HOW do you smile with ALLLL the abuse and MORE that you have gone through, despite YEARS AND YEARS of therapy? I don't know if "I" EVER could? I would try, but deep down I don't know that it would quite be an honest smile?

Dawn: I have been out of abusive environments for over thirty years now. I have had years of therapy, twelve-step, a fabulous husband, children, an abundance of close friends and a great profession. It just doesn't get any better than this. Honest!

3. Now that you have written this book, is 'this' what has you smiling today??? Has it helped you to overcome what you went through and has it brought awareness to and HELP FOR other people?

Dawn: Writing, Ragdoll Redeemed: Growing up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe, helped me overcome some parts of my childhood that I did not remember, or at least, the feelings associated with some of the incidents that were long ago forgotten. I cannot recall at the moment who said, "The body remembers what the mind forgets." I feel more at ease in general. The process has definitely brought me to a deeper psychological and spiritual awareness. The book is very new so I don't know if it will bring awareness to others. I hope so.

4. Have you had other people THANKING YOU for writing this book because it has helped them? I believe "I" would be doing that very thing if "I" had gone through ANY of the things you have!!!

Dawn: Thank you, but honestly, it is hard sometimes to remember the bad times. My life is full and rich beyond measure.

5. NOT a question, but I would like to APPLAUD you for overcoming a life of complete and total abuse, and coming out smiling!!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!! It has taken SO much work on YOUR part to TRY to overcome SO MANY things, I honestly do NOT see the general population being able to do this! This started in your wee years of childhood by dumpster diving for FOOD, then abuse from your own mother's boyfriends/sometimes husbands BEFORE THE AGE OF 5 and MORE! Dawn, you ARE A WOMAN WHO SHINES!!!!!!!!!!!! Keep on keeping on!!!

Thank you Laurie.

Now, onto some FUN questions!!!!

6. What is your FAVORITE flavor of Ice Cream?

 Tillamook's Udderly Chocolate ice cream would be my favorite but I have been sugar free for three years. I told my husband should I ever be close to dying and in a coma, just shove this ice cream in every orifice possible.

7. Are you a 'sweet tooth' or a 'salty' snack person?

Dawn: Now I am a "salty".

8. What are some of your FAVORITE hobbies/things to do when you have NO time restraints?

Dawn: I like to jitterbug with my husband, tent camping by the ocean, see my grandchildren, watching old movies, and I love, love, love to Jet Ski.

9. What is your favorite color?

Dawn: To look at: I love red and pale yellow. To wear: I love turquoise and black.

10. Do you have a room in your house painted your favorite color?

Dawn: No, but I have red rugs in my living room.

11. If you were to take a day and play hooky from EVERYTHING, what would you be doing?

Dawn: I just did it yesterday with a dear friend. We drove to a neighboring community, shopped, shared a wonderful lunch and laughed a lot.

12. What is your favorite book?

Dawn: Illusions by Richard Bach

13. Who is your favorite author?

I have many but I really like, Augusten Burroughs, Running with Scissors.

14. What are your future writing plans? Are you going to write MORE? If so, what genres are you going to write about?

Dawn: I just completed 2 free eBooks. The first is, The Ghost of Addiction took our Daughter. The second one is, Snippets of Marilyn and Me. Both should be available for free downloads on Kindle or Nook toward the end of May. Also, due to a new friend's suggestions and encouragement I am thinking of writing a fiction.

15. One other thing I would like to mention is your current WONDERFUL husband! Sometimes "I" have to pinch MYSELF and make sure MY life IS real because of the man I found and fell in love with who is SO wonderful! Do you find yourself doing just that, too? It's a WONDERFUL thing, MORE than that, to FINALLY meet your true 'other half', isn't it!

Dawn: My husband of thirty-six years knocks my socks off. My heart smiles when I think of him. He is absolutely my best life choice.

***Thank you SO much, Dawn, for answering these questions! I know Readers LOVE to get to know an author SO much better with questions like this! It gives so much MORE of a personal touch! They feel like they know you that much better! HUGE thanks!!!

Thank YOU for allowing me to be a part of your book tour, getting to know YOU, and MORE!! It's been a TRUE PLEASURE of mine! I will NEVER forget you, and the MOST important part is I will ALWAYS smile when faced with adversity because of YOU and your book! Thank you!

Thank you so much Laurie for allowing me this time for visiting with you and your readers.

Warm Regards, Dawn.

Thank YOU, Dawn, for answering all those questions! I LOVED your answers! Especially the photo of the Ice Cream! That's the BEST!!!
I will most definitely be getting your two books coming out at the end of May! Plus, they are FREE! Wow! Thank you, from MANY of us, I'm sure!
I would LOVE to read a book written by you in Fiction! I LOVE the way you write, and can only imagine how GREAT a book would be when you write one! I'm excited about that!!!


Here is the Rafflecopter form for you to fill out for YOUR chance to win a copy of this AWESOME book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I'm really looking forward to reading this book. It's amazing what one can overcome in life. Thanks for the opportunity.So glad Dawn found her HEA. :)
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

    1. Hi Carol!
      Thanks for stopping by my blog for the book Ragdoll Redeemed - Growing Up in the Shadows of Marilyn Munroe! It's an AMAZING book! Anyone would LOVE it! Yes, Dawn overcame SO much that it is amazing she IS smiling today! It's great she wrote this as many people could learn how to overcome their 'not so ideal' situations as well. The book really is a WONDERFULLY DIVINE read! Amazing read! Glad you entered and hope you win!
      Thanks again for coming by! This book IS a gem!


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