Thursday, January 5, 2012

Review: Putting Makeup on Dead People

Title: Putting Makeup on Dead People
Author: Jen Violi
Publisher: Hyperion Books CH (May 24, 2011)
Source: library
Rating: 7/10

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I picked this book up. Ever since an Freshman lit class in college where we read an essay about the embalming process, I've been pretty sure I'd like to be cremated, thankyouverymuch. And the summary is, like summaries tend to be, a bit on the cheesy side. "finds life in an unexpected place: a coffin." Seriously, blurb writers?
But what this book is really about, is finding out who you are. The embalming parts are just incidental. Donna Parisi is floating through life, not making any waves and just biding time until she graduates. She's been accepted to a public university and even though she has no idea what she'll be doing there, she plans to go. But then a sad twist of fate puts Donna at a classmate's funeral in the same place they'd held her father's, and after a friendly encounter with one of the morticians, she starts to wonder... what if this is what she's meant to do?

I loved this premise. It really got me thinking, which is always appreciated. Since I am old as the hills, I also got hit with a lot more sympathy for Donna's mom than is expected - yes, Donna was approaching this thoughtfully, but... it would still be hard to accept that your daughter didn't want to go to a "normal" college and was going to deal with dead bodies instead. 

Donna is smart and sensitive, refreshingly real and kind of oblivious sometimes when it comes to dating. Watching her expand her horizons is a pleasure, and while the romance is pretty low-key, it also seemed realistic for high school.

This was a really sweet and charming contemporary YA that takes a look at becoming who you are meant to be. I loved Donna Parisi and think Jen Violi's debut was a great way to toast the end of 2011.

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