The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer Summary

Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer Summary

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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is the first novel of The Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin, published in 2012. This Young Adult novel incorporates aspects of paranormal suspense, mystery, and horror into a story focused on a romantic relationship.

The novel opens with a note from the main character, Mara Dyer, informing the reader that this is not her real name; she is using a pseudonym on the advice of her lawyer. The first chapter is a flashback to Mara celebrating her friend Rachel’s birthday with their mutual friend Claire. The girls play with a Ouija board and Rachel playfully asks it how she will die. The Ouija spells out MARA, and Mara refuses to play any longer.

Mara then tells of waking up in the hospital. Her parents inform her that she, Rachel, Claire, and Mara’s boyfriend Jude (who was Claire’s brother) were at an abandoned asylum when it collapsed. The other three kids were presumed killed, but Mara was found unconscious but otherwise unscathed. Mara has no memory of the event, not even why they were there in the first place. Mara is plagued by feelings of loss and guilt, so the family decides that it might be best to get away from the scene of her friends’ deaths. They decide to move to Florida, taking Mara’s brothers Daniel and Joseph as well.

Mara attends her new high school and meets Jamie, who is bisexual, and Anna, who is cold and unfriendly to Mara. She also meets Noah Shaw, a British boy who is quite handsome. Jamie tells her that Noah has quite the reputation as a boy who sleeps with girls but never actually goes on a date with them. In class, Mara suffers a hallucination that the classroom is collapsing on top of her. She begins to suffer other hallucinations as well, seeing Claire and Jude’s faces in the mirror when she goes to clean up. A news report reveals that a girl named Jordana Palmer is missing.

Noah is very confident and sarcastic; Mara sees that he is pushy and mean, but cannot resist his charm. Mara’s Spanish teacher Mrs. Morales dislikes her for no apparent reason, adding to her stress. Mara suddenly remembers getting ready with Jude on the night of the accident; her memories begin to slowly come back to her. Later on, Mara observes a man being cruel and abusive to his dog, which upsets her. She wishes the man dead, and is disturbed when he dies a few days later exactly as she imagined.

Mara has another memory in which Jude tries to kiss her while they’re in the asylum and she won’t let him, and he is angry. Noah asks her out on a date, but Mara says no. Noah then tries to kiss her. The news reports that Jordana has been found dead in the swamp, eaten by alligators. Mara’s father, an attorney, takes Jordana’s accused murderer, Leon Lassiter, as a client. Mara and her brother Daniel attend a party and Mara wears her grandmother’s earrings. After the party, Mara comes home and finds the bathtub overflowing, and sees her grandmother’s earrings at the bottom of the tub. When she reaches for them the hot water burns her terribly, but then she snaps out of the hallucination and the earrings are still in her ears. Mara’s parents arrange for her to see a psychiatrist. At school, Anna and other girls hate Mara because she has Noah’s attention. When Noah retrieves her sketchbook after Anna steals it, Mara agrees to a date.

On their date, Mara has several visions of Jude and faints, and Noah reveals that his birth mother was stabbed to death in front of him, and that Mara’s brother’s informed him of her past. At school, Mara has a confrontation with her Spanish teacher. Jamie stands up for Mara with the mean girls, including Anna, and is expelled for fighting. Noah then beats up Anna’s ally Aiden. Mara gets an F in Spanish despite acing the test, and imagines Mrs. Morales choking on her own tongue. Later the teacher is found dead having done just that. Mara reveals that she has been prescribed medication but has refused to take her pills.

Noah informs Mara that her brother Joseph has been kidnapped, and they enter the swamp to search for him. Alligators attack them, but Mara wishes them away and they all die. They rescue Joseph, who has been tied up in a shack. Mara then remembers that at the asylum, Jude attempted to rape her and she wished him dead. Noah tries to help Mara recover her memories by taking her to a priest of sorts, Abel Lukumi, but Lukumi is rude to Mara and refuses to help. Noah then gives Mara drink that he says will help her remember, and she passes out and hallucinates that they begin making out, but then Noah begins to die. Mara realizes she has been killing people with her mind and manages to save Noah—but then wakes up, and Noah informs her they were asleep the whole time. Noah reveals that he has mental abilities and sees visions; this was how he knew where Joseph was. Noah takes Mara to the zoo to test her abilities and pressures her to kill insects. She initially refuses but he pushes her and she accidentally kills everything around her except Noah.

A clue reveals that Leon Lassiter kidnapped Joseph; Mara’s father was trying to drop the case and Leon sought to pressure him to stay on. Mara decides to use her powers to kill Leon, but just as she is about to, Jordana’s mother pulls out a gun and tries to shoot Leon, but hits Mara’s father accidentally. Mara decides she must confess, and goes to the police station, but before she can do anything Jude walks in, alive and well.