Marcella Colby is thirteen; she lives in Kansas, and her country is at war with Germany and Japan. But other wars go on closer to Kansas – Marcella’s war with her mother and father, and her war with her own body.

For Marcella discovers her body and the pleasure it can give her, but then she discovers that what she is doing and cannot stop doing is a very great sin against God, whom she loves very much—but not so much as the things she does at night in her bed.

In Marcella, a woman has written honestly and graphically for the first time about the fears and feelings of a girl growing into young womanhood. Marcella is about the terror at the first sight of blood flowing from one’s own body and the despair of knowing that for the rest of one’s life, a woman’s body is not under her control. Marcella is about the pride of blossoming into womanly curves and the chill of knowing that a woman must protect herself from the urges of others and from her own strong drives. Marcella is about the thrilling knowledge that a woman can give herself the most extraordinary pleasure, side by side with the terror of knowing that what feels so right to oneself is so horribly wrong in the eyes of society.

Marilyn Coffey’s intense, finely fashioned novel is the story of Marcella Colby, who comes of age in agony, whose struggle with her sexuality and her morality is a memorable and gripping reading experience. But Marcella is also the story of all women who know the exhilaration and fright that come with leaving dolls and blocks for the pleasures and anguish of adult sexuality.