Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Putting Makeup on Dead People by Jen Violi Review

Title: Putting Makeup on Dead People
Author: Jen Violi
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Page Count: 336 pages
Publish Date: May 24, 2011
Book Type: E-Galley from NetGalley
Publisher: Hyperion Books
ISBN: 9781423134817

Picture from Amazon
From Goodreads: In the spring of her senior year, Donna Parisi finds new life in an unexpected place: a coffin.
Since her father’s death four years ago, Donna has gone through the motions of living: her friendships are empty, she’s clueless about what to do after high school graduation, and her grief keeps her isolated, cut off even from the one parent she has left. That is until she’s standing in front of the dead body of a classmate at Brighton Brothers’ Funeral Home. At that moment, Donna realizes what might just give her life purpose is comforting others in death. That maybe who she really wants to be is a mortician.
This discovery sets in motion a life Donna never imagined was possible. She befriends a charismatic new student, Liz, notices a boy, Charlie, and realizes that maybe he's been noticing her, too, and finds herself trying things she hadn’t dreamed of trying before. By taking risks, Donna comes into her own, diving into her mortuary studies with a passion and skill she didn’t know she had in her. And she finally understands that moving forward doesn’t mean forgetting someone you love.
Jen Violi’s heartfelt and funny debut novel is a story of transformation—how one girl learns to grieve and say goodbye, turn loss into a gift, and let herself be exceptional...at loving, applying lipstick to corpses, and finding life in the wake of death.
My Review: The cover and the title are totally what drew me into this book. I love the lipstick color, and then when I noticed what the title was, it made me giggle. Clearly I would be the one to like a lipstick that they use on dead bodies. Hey... I’m really pale!
For some reason, even though I liked this book, I’m finding that the review is really hard to write. I hate when this happens. Here we go: I thought Donna made her decision to be a mortician very quickly, but hey... I guess when you know, you know. That whole part of the novel was very interesting. I don’t know if I have ever heard of a character in YA wanting to become a mortician? The struggles she had with her mother over this decision were heart-wrenching to read. I think all teenagers just want that support from their parents.  
Charlie is my favorite character. I wish we could have seen more of him in the book. I love how his parents are hippie-like and his lunches are totally random. Plus, when Donna is in the car with another boy and notices the coffee cups all over the floor... I love when she thinks about Charlie and his reusable mugs. Super cute. I liked how most of the characters seemed realistic. I could imagine them being real teenagers. That’s what makes a good contemporary.
The new girl in school, Liz, was kind of iffy for me. I can’t really pinpoint it, but somethings about her just didn’t sit right with me. I think she’s a character that everyone needs to form their own opinions on, so I will leave it at that. 
All in all, this is a nice coming-of-age, contemporary story. I can’t wait to see what Jen Violi writes in the future.     
Thanks to NetGalley, Hyperion Books and Jen Violi for this review copy!


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