Friday, April 15, 2011

Review: Putting Makeup On Dead People by Jen Violi

Putting Makeup On Dead People by Jen Violi

Pages: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Published: May 24th, 2011
IBSN: 9781423134817

Source: NetGalley

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 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.
[Synopsis by Goodreads]

The title, the cover, and the premise automatically made me want to read this book. The cover's simple, colourful, and cute, and the title is odd. I'm also getting into realistic YA, about family and grieving and the like (if anyone knows any books that fit that description, recommend some in the comments!).

Donna is a realistic character with a clear, unique voice. The first-person narration is raw and extremely honest. I never really knew what people meant when they said the voice was "honest" until I read books like this. She was definitely relatable, which made it easy to sympathise with her.

The relationship dynamics between Donna and her family members, between Donna and her friends, and between Donna and people she meets over the course of the novel all felt realistically built.

Her interest in becoming a mortician, though pretty 'out there', made sense for the character. I admired how although she cared what other people thought about her ambition, she didn't let their opinions sway her. She was determined.

If I had to some this novel up in one word, it'd be 'sweet'.

I give Putting Makeup On Dead People a 5 out of 5, and recommend any realistic YA fans to keep an eye out for it in July. It reminded me vaguely of Other Words For Love, so definitely check this one out if you liked that.