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My Sister Marilyn: A Memoir of Marilyn Monroe

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Few people know that Marilyn Monroe had a sister, and even fewer know the story of their relationship during Marilyn's rise from obscurity to fame. In MY SISTER MARILYN, Berniece Baker Miracle, working with her daughter Mona Rae, tells the story she has kept private for fifty years. The book includes more than forty photographs of Marilyn and her family and friends. "This Few people know that Marilyn Monroe had a sister, and even fewer know the story of their relationship during Marilyn's rise from obscurity to fame. In MY SISTER MARILYN, Berniece Baker Miracle, working with her daughter Mona Rae, tells the story she has kept private for fifty years. The book includes more than forty photographs of Marilyn and her family and friends. "This portrait of Marilyn is irreplaceable."--Entertainment Weekly. A LITERARY GUILD SELECTION.


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Few people know that Marilyn Monroe had a sister, and even fewer know the story of their relationship during Marilyn's rise from obscurity to fame. In MY SISTER MARILYN, Berniece Baker Miracle, working with her daughter Mona Rae, tells the story she has kept private for fifty years. The book includes more than forty photographs of Marilyn and her family and friends. "This Few people know that Marilyn Monroe had a sister, and even fewer know the story of their relationship during Marilyn's rise from obscurity to fame. In MY SISTER MARILYN, Berniece Baker Miracle, working with her daughter Mona Rae, tells the story she has kept private for fifty years. The book includes more than forty photographs of Marilyn and her family and friends. "This portrait of Marilyn is irreplaceable."--Entertainment Weekly. A LITERARY GUILD SELECTION.

30 review for My Sister Marilyn: A Memoir of Marilyn Monroe

  1. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    The picture on the cover is worth a thousand words. The two women could be fraternal twins. They look strikingly modern despite their 1950's bikinis and hair dos. Your eye goes right to Marilyn. Her head is up. She is striving to be taller, as she actually is, on a less than level beach. Marilyn looks up and right at you through the camera. Bernice tilts her head slightly down, shyly looking slightly off camera. Both are fresh and young. They appear open and naive and represent the energy, innoc The picture on the cover is worth a thousand words. The two women could be fraternal twins. They look strikingly modern despite their 1950's bikinis and hair dos. Your eye goes right to Marilyn. Her head is up. She is striving to be taller, as she actually is, on a less than level beach. Marilyn looks up and right at you through the camera. Bernice tilts her head slightly down, shyly looking slightly off camera. Both are fresh and young. They appear open and naive and represent the energy, innocence and can-do attitude of post-war America. It took a long time for Bernice to emerge from the shadows and tell her sister's story. The Miracle family never made a secondary career or hobby off Marilyn's fame. It is true to form that Bernice chose her daughter to write this and not a highly stylized ghost writer. This seems to be the Miracle's first and only foray into that world. Reading between the lines of this and other sources, you can see how Marilyn loved Bernice as her only living and reachable kin. Bernice has so successfully dodged the spotlight that in searching the internet, I could find no hint of whether she is still living or not. I did find Mona Rae, who seems to be enjoying her life as a school librarian. There are no great revelations here, maybe there were in 1994 when it was written. Some of the family photos are great - I love the grandmother's hat! This is a simple telling of the Marilyn story from her sister and niece who loved her very deeply. It is an enjoyable read although it's a sad story.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    What a charming book about Marilyn Monroe by someone who should know...her very own sister. I haven't read any other books on Marilyn but this book intrigued me because it was written by her sister. I felt thankful that Marilyn's sister would want to open up and share her precious memories. Her stories were heartfelt and you got the sense of getting to know what Marilyn was really like, beyond the Hollywood image she portrayed so well. This book made me sad for Marilyn, sad for Berniece and Mona What a charming book about Marilyn Monroe by someone who should know...her very own sister. I haven't read any other books on Marilyn but this book intrigued me because it was written by her sister. I felt thankful that Marilyn's sister would want to open up and share her precious memories. Her stories were heartfelt and you got the sense of getting to know what Marilyn was really like, beyond the Hollywood image she portrayed so well. This book made me sad for Marilyn, sad for Berniece and Mona Rae, and for everyone who knew the real Marilyn, because her life was over way too soon. We in the general public don't stop to think that movie stars are real people with family and friends that love them for who they are without them being famous. We forget they are human beings just like the rest of us. This book was an intimate and gentle look at a legend by someone who loved her.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey

    Though this took me 20 days to finish, it wasn't due to lack of interest. In fact, if I wasn't such a busy person, I could have finished this in two days. It was so interesting. What I really enjoyed about this book was the fact that it was written by Marilyn's sister, Berniece, who knew Marilyn before she was Marilyn. I've always been a fan of Marilyn Monroe, and was interested to get past all the media and news stories, which were mostly fabricated. With this book, you really get to the heart o Though this took me 20 days to finish, it wasn't due to lack of interest. In fact, if I wasn't such a busy person, I could have finished this in two days. It was so interesting. What I really enjoyed about this book was the fact that it was written by Marilyn's sister, Berniece, who knew Marilyn before she was Marilyn. I've always been a fan of Marilyn Monroe, and was interested to get past all the media and news stories, which were mostly fabricated. With this book, you really get to the heart of the true story behind Marilyn, and who she was before the fame and glamour took over. You find out that Marilyn was a very sweet, quiet, intelligent, and thoughtful person, and hated inconveniencing others and hated being late. It's a far cry from the thoughtless, airheaded Marilyn that was painted in the tabloids. She also absolutely loved Berniece and Paris and Mona Rae, Berniece's husband and child. I was shocked to learn that they were actually so close, because you never hear of Berniece Miracle. All you hear about are the supposed affairs Marilyn had with the Kennedy's, and the fact that she was taking so many pills, she could barely sleep, and she could barely remember her lines. Berniece doesn't bring in any of the gossip into the book, except for a few anecdotes in which she tells the reader that they are absolutely not true, like Marilyn being late to sets because she just didn't care. It was very refreshing to get away from the media aspect of Marilyn's life, and to see her as an actual person, and not just a movie star. She had dreams and aspirations, and trials and setbacks, but Marilyn was a wonderfully caring and loving person, and wanted to make everyone happy, regardless of being unhappy herself. The ending of course is very sad, and you can see how troubled Marilyn was at the end. Berniece does add that she doesn't think it really was a suicide, or an intentional one, anyway, and adds comments from Joe DiMaggio, with him saying he didn't think it was suicide, either. If you're a fan of Marilyn Monroe, definitely give this a read. You get to see her home and family life from a very young age, and it paints a different, real picture of the greatly misunderstood woman who was behind some of the most classic comedies that were produced in the 1950s. (In which you learn she actually hated doing comedies, and wanted to do dark dramas instead).

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sally Edsall

    I recommend this book to anyone vaguely interested in Marilyn Monroe, not merely the die-hard fan. I do not fall into that category, , but am aware of her enduring presence as an icon. This book lived up to its intriguing promise of providing ANOTHER viewpoint about Marilyn – other than the myriad biographies which have been about Marilyn by ‘outsiders’ and those enriching themselves on the proceeds. This is very much the biography of Norma Jean Baker as she came to be known by her sister. The pic I recommend this book to anyone vaguely interested in Marilyn Monroe, not merely the die-hard fan. I do not fall into that category, , but am aware of her enduring presence as an icon. This book lived up to its intriguing promise of providing ANOTHER viewpoint about Marilyn – other than the myriad biographies which have been about Marilyn by ‘outsiders’ and those enriching themselves on the proceeds. This is very much the biography of Norma Jean Baker as she came to be known by her sister. The picture of ‘private Marilyn’ depicted here does an enormous amount to restore Marilyn’s humanity, her connection with her family and peers, the person behind the impenetrable Goddess Icon that she has become in the decades since her death. This is the uncommodified, unexploited Marilyn, a person who loved and was loved. It’s a great corrective to the hagiographic or shallow tendencies of most Marilyn-abilia and I thoroughly recommend it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Isabelle

    What a jewel, thank you dear Bernice for sharing with us memories of your sister. In your words, Marilyn was more alive than ever. The fake childhood created by Hollywood is finally cleared up. It is also lovely how Marilyn wanted to protect her family and how on your side you protected her by not disclosing your pain with the journalists, intruding in your life. I wish I had read it first when I discovered Marilyn, simply it was not yet published, and was soon out of print in my own language. We What a jewel, thank you dear Bernice for sharing with us memories of your sister. In your words, Marilyn was more alive than ever. The fake childhood created by Hollywood is finally cleared up. It is also lovely how Marilyn wanted to protect her family and how on your side you protected her by not disclosing your pain with the journalists, intruding in your life. I wish I had read it first when I discovered Marilyn, simply it was not yet published, and was soon out of print in my own language. We discover Marilyn's real childhood, her struggle with a soon to be distant mother (illness), her aunts and uncles, her wonderful discovery of a sister and niece, happy times and darker ones, but never nightmares we heard about. Marilyn was a fun and loving child, she loved to spend girly time with her sister, and enjoyed the outdoors with friends and family. She was hard working, loved to read, to learn, always doing her best. For exemple while a young actress, she was always well trimed, wearing fresh ironed clothes to go to the studios, while other aspiring actresses were arriving with their hair upside down, and not matching clothes, picked up at the last minute. Marilyn always wanted to look her best, and studio executives noticed it. l feel so much closer to Marilyn after reading this book, only Michele Morgan's book caught a little bit of Marilyn's breath, but not quite this one. If you already heard some fake stories being cleared up, it was most likely thanks to this book that did it when first published. It will change your vision of Marilyn forever, closer than ever to the real woman we love. I've been reading Marilyn books for 25 years, and I deeply regret that I hadn't read it sooner. I will continue to hunt an out of print French edition, to fully enjoy the book. A Marilyn book collection wouldn't be complete without it. If you just discovered Marilyn, it should be way up in your top ten reads.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    A dear friend gave this to me years ago and I'm so happy I finally got around to reading it. This makes me want to run right out and read all I can find on Marilyn, if only I could trust the veracity of the information or the motives of the authors. In the early years Marilyn is described as a fun-loving, loyal and confident woman that you would totally want to hang out with. Boy, does super-fame seem ever nutso and sad. Great read. A dear friend gave this to me years ago and I'm so happy I finally got around to reading it. This makes me want to run right out and read all I can find on Marilyn, if only I could trust the veracity of the information or the motives of the authors. In the early years Marilyn is described as a fun-loving, loyal and confident woman that you would totally want to hang out with. Boy, does super-fame seem ever nutso and sad. Great read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    janet Burke

    This was a very interesting book written by Marilyn Monroe's half-sister, Berniece Baker Miracle and her niece, Mona Rae Miracle about the person who they knew as Norma Jean and loved as family. It dispels much of the rumor and sensationalism that surrounds this interesting, iconic woman and sheds light on what sounds like a sweet, very ambitious, smart, insecure and tragic human being. This was a very interesting book written by Marilyn Monroe's half-sister, Berniece Baker Miracle and her niece, Mona Rae Miracle about the person who they knew as Norma Jean and loved as family. It dispels much of the rumor and sensationalism that surrounds this interesting, iconic woman and sheds light on what sounds like a sweet, very ambitious, smart, insecure and tragic human being.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    What a great change of view for Norma Jeane. It is so tragic that she died the way that she did when she did. She truly was a very private person. I dont believe that she showed all of her true self to anyone. One was lucky if she even shared a moment.

  9. 5 out of 5

    DAISY DISNEY

    This was an ok book for me. I think this is because there wasn't any new information on Marilyn that I had not read before. Still I'm sure Marilyn Monroe fans will find it enjoyable since it was written by Marilyn's sister and neice. This was an ok book for me. I think this is because there wasn't any new information on Marilyn that I had not read before. Still I'm sure Marilyn Monroe fans will find it enjoyable since it was written by Marilyn's sister and neice.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joey Traughber

    Berniece Miracle's book "My Sister Marilyn" is a wonderfully written tribute to Marilyn! I loved it! Berniece Miracle's book "My Sister Marilyn" is a wonderfully written tribute to Marilyn! I loved it!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Francis

    De-light-ful! Growing up, I was a HUGE fan of Marilyn Monroe and I have read almost every book there is on her. I hadn't read this book and saw it a few places and even though I had read all these other books on her, I hardly heard of her sister. And if she was mentioned, their were hardly any details and I certainly did not realize that they were as close as they were or that they saw one another as often as they did. Actually, I wonder why Marilyn focused so much in interviews on being an orpha De-light-ful! Growing up, I was a HUGE fan of Marilyn Monroe and I have read almost every book there is on her. I hadn't read this book and saw it a few places and even though I had read all these other books on her, I hardly heard of her sister. And if she was mentioned, their were hardly any details and I certainly did not realize that they were as close as they were or that they saw one another as often as they did. Actually, I wonder why Marilyn focused so much in interviews on being an orphan and being alone when she did actually have a sister she loved and had a close relationship with. I guess maybe it's because she didn't know the sister until she was much older. Anyway, I ordered this book, not expecting much but ended up really loving it and found the Marilyn Berniece talks about as a much more enjoyable person than what I've read in other books. Other books have her so downtrodden and miserable; they all read like; pills, booze, depression, lateness, pills, booze, depression, lateness.... and this book made Marilyn seem so much happier and fun even though obviously, she did have a problem with pills and did have issues. But it was nice to read about her relationship with her sister and the relaxed loving relationship she had with Joe Dimaggio and the cordial one she had with Arthur Miller after the divorce. Not nearly the drama that other books want to focus on. Also interesting that Marilyn would entertain Berniece's husband and his friends from work when they came to town for business. Also interesting to see that Marilyn spent much more time with her mother. Other books I've read have made it seem as if the mother went into a home and Marilyn only saw her for the occasional visit to the institution but by this account, Marilyn lived with her mother, spent a good bit of time with her, and received letters frequently -- so they were in touch quite a bit, which I had not really read before. I'm not sure if Berniece is alive as of this writing, but I did google her and saw that she had lived to at least 101 - Wow! Good for her! Such a shame that Marilyn could not have lived such a long, happy life. Anyway, this was a really good book on Marilyn and probably the best book I've read about her.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rabia

    This was quite simply put, an outstanding memoir by Berniece Miracle with Mona Rae's help. Norma Jeane is shown from a very intimate viewpoint throughout the book. I was surprised to see that Marilyn did in fact have contact with her mother and spent time with her, but her mother was extremely distant and dismissive, which understandably leaves a child so shattered, heartbroken and feeling unworthy and unloved to say the least. Knowing exactly how that feels, really enabled me to connect to both This was quite simply put, an outstanding memoir by Berniece Miracle with Mona Rae's help. Norma Jeane is shown from a very intimate viewpoint throughout the book. I was surprised to see that Marilyn did in fact have contact with her mother and spent time with her, but her mother was extremely distant and dismissive, which understandably leaves a child so shattered, heartbroken and feeling unworthy and unloved to say the least. Knowing exactly how that feels, really enabled me to connect to both Marilyn and Berniece, in an unprecedented way. The wounds we carry. I'm sure others who read, coming from similar experiences will be able to connect with the heartbreak and abandonment. I was also shocked to find out that Marilyn met her real father in hospital and Glady's reaction to Marilyn's death. What this book highlights is an ambitious, hard-working, lovely, sensitive and smart young woman who goes on to become the biggest icon of the 20th century. It's not all flowery, for example Berniece relates to when she asks Marilyn's doctor when Marilyn can stop taking all those pills, and Marilyn quickly quips to Berniece, that she needs them. I also found it wonderful that Marilyn's letters to Berniece and vice versa still exist and you can view them online. I definitely feel this book paints the most accurate picture of Marilyn. You can hardly find anything about Mona Rae or Berniece online! Neither of them sought to profit off their connection and have maintained their utmost privacy. The only thing left to say is thank you to Berniece and Mona Rae for this memoir. It was raw, emotional and highlighted the incredible strength Marilyn and Berniece possessed and also lessons for all of us in terms of being financially aware and compassionate towards others. If you're a Marilyn fan, this is a MUST-read!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michele Saumberfield

    I bought this book, and as is my usual fashion I was unable to read it. However I sent it to my friend Tina who read it for me and thought it was heart-warming. Because of my past life beliefs reading stuff about Marilyn is difficult for me. The thing that really sticks out in Tina's mind is that the book says Marilyn really wanted to live closer to her sister. There are also lovely family photos of Norma Jeane with her sister Berniece and niece Mona Rae in the book. This relationship between th I bought this book, and as is my usual fashion I was unable to read it. However I sent it to my friend Tina who read it for me and thought it was heart-warming. Because of my past life beliefs reading stuff about Marilyn is difficult for me. The thing that really sticks out in Tina's mind is that the book says Marilyn really wanted to live closer to her sister. There are also lovely family photos of Norma Jeane with her sister Berniece and niece Mona Rae in the book. This relationship between the three women is AUTHENTIC. It's really a shame the two sisters didn't get to grow up together. What strikes me most about this family situation is that I read some things online and Berniece and Mona Rae choose to see "the truly innocent side" of Norma Jeane a/k/a Marilyn. And although they seem unaware of some realities, it is their very SWEET take on things that shows how much they really love Norma Jeane. They see her through "rose colored glasses". But then again....we all need people in our lives who see us that way.....don't we? My friend Tina seemed very happy she got this glimpse into Marilyn's lifetime. -Michele M. Saumberfield

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jayme Cook

    Lots of interesting Details The book had some details about what happened to Marilyn's money after died. However Berenice was a very naive sister. Marilyn spent the weekend with Frank Sinatra, comes home with a dog, but it was just platonic??? Yves Montana has admitted he slept with Marilyn. But "she would never sleep with a married" ,HA. Arthur Miller was married when she went after him. Just because you write to her or call her from far away doesn't mean know her on personal terms. Lots of interesting Details The book had some details about what happened to Marilyn's money after died. However Berenice was a very naive sister. Marilyn spent the weekend with Frank Sinatra, comes home with a dog, but it was just platonic??? Yves Montana has admitted he slept with Marilyn. But "she would never sleep with a married" ,HA. Arthur Miller was married when she went after him. Just because you write to her or call her from far away doesn't mean know her on personal terms.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    This book is about Bernice and her sister Norma Jean. They had a family and careers. They tried their best to do right. They encouraged each other and helped their family. Then things happened that spoiled everything. Norma Jean lost her life and Bernice lost her sister. Oh, by the way, Norma Jean was really good at acting, and always had a goal for better roles than the ones she was type-cast in. But she never got the chance.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sonya

    I enjoyed this book although I felt sad reading about all of the lost opportunities for connection between the sisters. It was interesting to learn about Marilyn's early life and about how disciplined she was when it came to her career. She seems very innocent in this book but I don't know that she was as innocent as her sister thought her to be. I am glad that her sister cleared up some of the case rumors about Marilyn. Very insightful. I enjoyed this book although I felt sad reading about all of the lost opportunities for connection between the sisters. It was interesting to learn about Marilyn's early life and about how disciplined she was when it came to her career. She seems very innocent in this book but I don't know that she was as innocent as her sister thought her to be. I am glad that her sister cleared up some of the case rumors about Marilyn. Very insightful.

  17. 4 out of 5

    en

    4.7/5 as someone who has recently started getting into marilyn by learning about her life and watching her films, it was a really nice read. i don't think i nessarily learned anything majorly new about her with my background knowledge, but it was interesting to read the memoir in the perspective of her half-sister, considering she and marilyn were close. i'd highly reccomend someone to read this if they're just getting into marilyn :) 4.7/5 as someone who has recently started getting into marilyn by learning about her life and watching her films, it was a really nice read. i don't think i nessarily learned anything majorly new about her with my background knowledge, but it was interesting to read the memoir in the perspective of her half-sister, considering she and marilyn were close. i'd highly reccomend someone to read this if they're just getting into marilyn :)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Eileen Rehn

    This is a great biography told by her sister and niece. A story of their relationship, family, and lives growing up once they discovered each other as young children. It just goes to show how media the media lies and sensationalizes the rich and famous. Also, how the movie directors stereotyped her character based on her looks.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    I was aware that Marilyn had a very sad childhood, not that the information in this book said otherwise, but I was pleased to learn that Marilyn Monroe did have a sister and close family friends who loved her very much. I also learned more about Marilyns mother. I liked the book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Having already done a great deal of reading about Marilyn Monroe (a truly fascinating person), I found this book dull. There was no new information other than re-imagined conversations. I also find it interesting that most of the letters that Miracle references were "lost in a flood." Having already done a great deal of reading about Marilyn Monroe (a truly fascinating person), I found this book dull. There was no new information other than re-imagined conversations. I also find it interesting that most of the letters that Miracle references were "lost in a flood."

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brendan Gressel

    this book is heartbreaking. it has a whole photo album in the middle that brought tears to my eyes. Marilyn was an actress, sex symbol, and singer, but firstly, she was a person, a family member, a sister. 💔

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    It was a decent read. I don't feel like I know Norma Jean much better but it was nice to know her sister loved her. It was a decent read. I don't feel like I know Norma Jean much better but it was nice to know her sister loved her.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Arlynn

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. location 5028 on my kindle has pictures. I enjoyed this - simply written. A cautionary tale about beauty, exploitation, greed - what price fame?

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jackie Rogers

    Love this book. I always keep looking through it most of the time. My birthday is same as Marilyn's. Love this book. I always keep looking through it most of the time. My birthday is same as Marilyn's.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Piper Winchester

    I would say that I know Marilyn's story pretty well. It was nice to meet her sister and read about Marilyn in a different kind of light. I would say that I know Marilyn's story pretty well. It was nice to meet her sister and read about Marilyn in a different kind of light.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    The book was written in a chaotic mixture of 3rd person and 1st person, but the content was interesting

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tahsin

    Berniece Baker Miracle was the half sister of Marilyn Monroe. I didn't even know Marilyn has a sister until I stumbled upon this book a couple of months ago on Goodreads. A book written by the only family she had, it contained many photos and anecdotes I'd never seen before. I don't think Marilyn really trusted Berniece since she begged her after every telephone call not to release pictures of her to the public. This could be just her or maybe Marilyn was like that with everyone, I'm not fully s Berniece Baker Miracle was the half sister of Marilyn Monroe. I didn't even know Marilyn has a sister until I stumbled upon this book a couple of months ago on Goodreads. A book written by the only family she had, it contained many photos and anecdotes I'd never seen before. I don't think Marilyn really trusted Berniece since she begged her after every telephone call not to release pictures of her to the public. This could be just her or maybe Marilyn was like that with everyone, I'm not fully sure. I wonder what she would have thought of this book?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Defenestraethe

    I'm not particularly interested in Marilyn Monroe, and I actively dislike the efforts of some to make her a stand-in for every attractive woman ever. But a clever friend discovered Miracle's writing, and this I did find intriguing. How weird is it to be a regular person with an internationally-recognizable family member? Bittersweet. I'm not particularly interested in Marilyn Monroe, and I actively dislike the efforts of some to make her a stand-in for every attractive woman ever. But a clever friend discovered Miracle's writing, and this I did find intriguing. How weird is it to be a regular person with an internationally-recognizable family member? Bittersweet.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Saturday's Child

    This is a book that I first noticed some years ago but had not got around to reading. It offers the reader an insight into the life of Marilyn Monroe as seen and understood by her sister and niece.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I was worried about reading a book about Marilyn Monroe, because sometimes they can be a little too salacious. This one was showed a whole different side to Marilyn that we don't usually hear about, and I liked how interjected throughout was Berniece's thoughts. I was worried about reading a book about Marilyn Monroe, because sometimes they can be a little too salacious. This one was showed a whole different side to Marilyn that we don't usually hear about, and I liked how interjected throughout was Berniece's thoughts.

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