Putting Makeup on Dead People-Jen Violi
Publication date: May 24, 2011
Of Note: Debut Author Challenge Book #5
It's been four years since Donna Parisi's father passed away, but it might as well have been four days. Donna makes conversation and goes through the motion, but she hasn't really gotten on with life. She's not close with anyone, she doesn't have a boyfriend and she's going to college at the local university with a major that her mother picked. But one day Donna has an epiphany. She wants to work with dead people. She wants to help people say goodbye and she wants to learn to love a whole person--body and soul. She wants to live her life and be exceptional...at loving, at grieving and at embalming and cremating,too. Even as she makes the decision, things start to change. Donna makes friends with the charismatic new student, Liz. She notices the boy, Charlie, at her table and realizes that maybe he's been noticing her, too. And she begins to forgive the rest of her family for living their lives while she's been busy moping.Jennifer Violi's gentle, moving story of a girl who finds a life in the midst of death will appeal to any reader who's felt stuck and found inspiration in an unexpected place.
This year has been the year of contemporary YA. Putting Make Up on Dead People is the latest in a series of contemporary books that I've torn through at a rapid pace. I couldn't stop reading! I loved everything about this book. Donna is a unique character, but not so much that she's unbelievable. She's relateable and a little weird, but in a way that rang true for me. The secondary characters are also well developed. Donna's family is interesting, and so are her friends and romantic interests.
The voice of this novel also struck a chord with me. I don't know, as a writer I couldn't help but admire it, and hope that my contemporary YA (which also deals with a girl recovering from the loss of her father) could come anywhere close to this novel.
I liked that this novel started a couple months before the characters graduated high school and followed them in the months that followed. So often in YA high school graduation is the finale of the novel, not the beginning. It was also apparent that the author did her research of mortuary science, and described it in an informative way, but that won't gross out readers.
To sum up, I adored Putting Make Up on Dead People. I had to read it in nearly one sitting and I have a feeling you probably will too!