Putting Makeup on Dead People

Putting Makeup on Dead People

3.62 (1,173 ratings by Goodreads)
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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.
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Product details

  • 12-17
  • Hardback | 326 pages
  • 151 x 211 x 28mm | 494g
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • 1423134818
  • 9781423134817
  • 1,049,256

About Jen Violi

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, Jen Violi has now staked her claim in Portland, Oregon, where the greenery is plentiful, the creative spirit palpable, and the fresh coffee available every few feet-just how she likes it. Thanks to the Universities of Dayton and New Orleans, Jen got to study English, theatre, theology, and creative writing. With reverence for the healing power of stories, Jen runs her own business, offering creative writing coaching, workshops, and retreats.
Visit the author's website at www.jenvioli.com.
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Rating details

1,173 ratings
3.62 out of 5 stars
5 25% (289)
4 32% (380)
3 28% (331)
2 10% (120)
1 5% (53)

Our customer reviews

The death of a parent or two is an overarching theme in YA fiction, but recently it seems to be getting out of hand, don't you think? It's certainly made me rethink some of the events in my own writing. I think the main problem that I usually have with this cliché is that it is often used as a kind of "get-out-of-jail-free" card by some (not all) authors. Young adults are meant to relate to the feelings of isolation and displacement, and what better way to exacerbate this than by pulling the proverbial rug out from under your character by taking away their guidance? Want a moody protagonist who's feeling embittered against the world? Want a protagonist who feels lost and lonely? Want to give your character a justifiable excuse for acting like their problems are bigger than their friends'? Bring on the car crash. It seems unnecessary really, doesn't it? I guess what I'm saying is that so many authors use the "death of a parent" as an expositionary device that is there to set up their characters. This is why I was perhaps a tad cynical about the premise of Putting Makeup On Dead People. However, the rest of the blurb was really interesting and won me over. I'm glad I gave this book a go! The death of the paternal parent wasn't just used as a background device, it was a significant theme throughout the book. The text truly explored the affects of loss and grief on a teenager. Donna is nearly eighteen and is already kind of a social square peg. Since the death of her father, Donna has felt like she doesn't know who she is any more. She has strained relationships with her family and struggles to conform to their religious thinking. She just doesn't feel like she fits in anywhere. Then she goes to a funeral of a school acquaintance and feels comfort in the sombre peace of the Brighton Brothers' Funeral Home. In the years since her father died, she has become fascinated by death and feels drawn to it. Her fascination is never described as morbid or macabre; she sees death as an inevitable natural force and seeks to be a part of making the process easier and more peaceful for others. I loved Donna as a character. She was a little bit stiff and sometimes almost irritatingly blind to all of her own great qualities, but she felt real to me. Her transformation throughout the book is beautiful and I loved how, by accepting death as something natural, she is finally able to embrace her life and loved ones. I loathed her mother. Her religious rigidity was infuriating and she didn't seem to care about what Donna wanted. I understood where she was coming from: she wanted her daughter to be "normal" and to do something "normal". I just felt that she was a selfish woman of double standards. Violi does a great job of making you empathise with Donna as you feel her own sense of almost claustrophobia in her relationship with her mother. There was some sexual material that I would suggest is only suitable for older YA readers. At first I was surprised by how the sexual content was dealt with. It was ... kinda gross! An I'm not a prude on any level. I was reading one specific scene with a proper look of disgust on my face, thinking, "Eww...that's going a bit far." Then I realised that the somehow seedy scene was a deliberate move on Violi's part. It does not glamorise sex, it didn't make it romantic or sweet. because Donna was allowing things to go too far! I thought that this was an uncomfortable-to-read but cleverly tailored scene. When it's right, things happen behind metaphorical closed doors and we don't get treated to the (forgive the pun) ins and outs. Overall, I found this to be an engagingly written novel about a young woman who is trying to come to terms with her grief and her past in order to discover her identity and move on to a brighter future. Donna is a bit of a butterfly and I liked watching her find her wings. Furthermore, the scenes of Donna's training in the funeral home were fascinating. She is never squeamish about the bodies and it was lovely to see the subject of death written about with such sensitivity. Saying that...there's a mention of super-glue that made my eyes widen a bit! I think I even let out a morbid little laugh. I recommend this book whole-heartedly. I hope you all give it a try and enjoy it as much as I did.show more
by Laura Williams
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