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Paint Me a Monster

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  133 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Rinnie Gardener's life looks like a perfect painting from the outside—a loving family and a beautiful house. But when the paint is stripped away, this dream dissolves to dust. Her parents divorce. Her father treats her like a stranger. Her mother, looming like a black cloud, treats her worse. Painful words become painful bruises. Rinnie's own body becomes a source of self- ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published January 1st 2014 by Scarlet Voyage
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Rating details
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May 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
It took me a while to get into this, but when I got used to the style—short chapters, vignettes almost, that are chronological but not one A–Z storyline—it worked really, really well for me.

The book opens with Rinnie (about four years old) in 1958. Her family is wealthy; she is raised as much by the paid help as by her parents—but wealth does not insulate Rinnie from the world around her. Her mother, in particular, is desperately unhappy and, for reasons Rinnie cannot as a child understand, take
Jan 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I won this book in a Goodreads contest. I was a bit leery, as I've received giveaway book before, and some of them are really poorly written. Boy was I surprised when I cracked open "Paint Me a Monster"!

It's very skillfully written- I found myself immersed in the story almost immediately. Rinnie is a compelling character, and I think she will remind many people with their younger selves. I connected with her very early on. Her struggles felt like my struggles, her triumphs were my triumphs. The
Cindy Goodman
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A remarkable achievement for a first time novelist, Paint Me a Monster is a beautifully written work filled with vivid imagery and wrenching descriptions of a childhood filled with both joy and heartbreak. It's a story of survival which should inspire much needed dialogue about the consequences of abuse and divorce, including feelings of abandonment, issues with trust, and, most recently identified, a significant increase in the number of children diagnosed with eating disorders.

I highly recomm
Kenzie Judd
Mar 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Personal Response
I would give this book three out of five stars. The author made the main character grow up too fast. It would skip ages. The book also said the main character's dad is an alcoholic, but it never appeared in the book.

The book started out with Rinnie being three years old and her baby brother, Evan, was just born. Rinnie was never allowed to go by her brother because her mom, Rose, did not want germs by Evan. Rinnie had two maids that took care of her when her dad and mom were
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Just finished "Paint Me a Monster" and I thank the author for the experience.
Tolstoy said that all happy families are alike, but all unhappy families are unhappy in different ways.
And Rinnie's family is not only unhappy in a different way, but you vividly draw a picture of that acute pain of that different way. Rinnie's worries are a teenager's worries - Am I good enough? Am I loved? Am I wanted? Bad enough to handle these worries alone, but what if they are made worse by the people who say they
Apr 10, 2014 rated it liked it
I'm not entirely sure what to think about this book. Baskin is really good at describing small details. The book is rife with observing the most ordinary of objects or emotions or actions and somehow making them new and refreshing.

Beyond that, the main character is really deep and complicated, and the ability to show her growth over many years propelled most of the book. Baskin is quite good at capturing the perspective of a girl at many different ages, and I definitely noticed the voice and pe
Cheryl Bradley
Oct 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
After her parents divorce, Rinnie's life becomes a living hell. Her brother chooses to live with her father while her older sister, Lizzie, sticks by her side. No matter what Rinnie does, she cannot please her mother whose actions toward her are abusive and cruel. She is treated differently from both her brother and sister and is told by her mother that with Rinnie, she "created a monster".

Rinnie looks for acceptance from others - a father who is there more for his step-family than his own daug
Oct 18, 2014 rated it liked it
The story that was trying to get across here was great, but it was poorly executed. The story jumped around a lot, which was confusing. It felt as if the author had just sat down, brainstormed a bunch of random scenes from this girl's life, and put them into a book without developing what happened in-between. Also, the beginning of the book was painfully boring. I almost didn't finish it.
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
It's an okay book. It takes a very long time to get interesting and once something interesting happens, it moves on. It's slow book and it can get very boring at times. It's not bad but it's not great.
Nov 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Also on my blog, Luthien Reviews.

Warning: This review (and novel) contain frank discussions of child abuse, mental illness, and eating disorders.
What would sixteen-year-old Rinnie say to that fear-struck four-year-old girl?”

I guess I'd kneel down and hug her. And tell her, very softly, that she's not alone, that I'll protect her, that I won't leave her. I'd tell her everyone gets scared and that it's OK to cry. Crying is a way to call for help.”

Silence. “Rinnie,” Mr. Algrin whispers. “You are
Dee Price
2.5 stars

I really hate to give this book such a poor rating because Rinnie was such a well-developed character but this story needs work. To start off with, nothing and I mean NOTHING, happens within the first 200 pages of the book. I almost DNF's this book several times. The writing style is also choppy and sporadic. Rinnie's character is dealing with some very serious problems which include abuse, an eating disorder, and abandonment issues but this disorganized plot does not adequately convey
Apr 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Member of a picture perfect family, Rinnie (nicknamed after the Dog, Rin Tin Tin, in the movies)has always been the odd one out. Rinnie asks awkward questions, blurts out family secrets at inopportune times, and is the family scapegoat. Her family punishes her by yelling at her, ignoring her, and sending her away to camp. Neglected and unloved, Rinnie punishes herself by restricting her diet until she is skeletal (the family's skeleton in the closet?).

The reader will immediately understand that
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Janie Baskin’s Paint Me a Monster tells the story of Margo Gardner, whose self-chosen nickname, Rinnie, comes from watching Rin Tin Tin at age 3 and wanting to be “the smartest, fastest, strongest dog in the world.” Baskin nails the innocence and curiosity of her young child narrator and just as strongly expands on Rinnie’s questions and hopes as she ages through high school.

Despite an appearance of wealth and a stable family, all is not happy behind closed doors. Rinnie’s parents divorce and he
Jeffrey Gusfield
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
After burying myself in Paint Me A Monster, I felt better about being human, which is the most I can say about any reading experience. Janie Baskin’s Margo Gardener, a.k.a. “Rinnie,” is a strepitous gem, brimming with introspective, childlike ideas and queries – the kind most of us can never verbalize with such startling recall and success. Rinnie is a living symbol and uber-adequate correspondent of her dysfunctional, middle-class American family. She represents the richly opportuned, but damag ...more
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“Paint Me a Monster” shows the deft hand and light touch of an artist working with words instead of materials to portray the emotional journey of a Midwestern girl dodging the detritus of a seemingly idyllic home life as its artifice is stripped away by forces beyond her control.

When we first meet the girl, Rinnie (a self-adopted nickname taken from the TV animal hero Rin Tin Tin), we view her world through the lens of innocent first-person naiveté common to very young children who take what the
Cristine Aronson
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: young adults, adults,teachers, counselors
Janie Baskin has created a character with whom so many young girls and adults can easily identify in this insightful first novel. Rinnie's quest for self, the traumas she endures and the discovery of her talents are relayed with a voice that reaches out and touches our hearts in this coming of age work.

Like images on celluloid, Baskin captures moments of poignancy, pain and humor as her characters come to life during the 13 years encompassed in Paint Me a Monster. Tracing the years just before
Nov 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, realistic-fiction
This heart wrenching novel is told in short vignettes of Rinnie Gardner's life from age 3 to 16. When her parents divorce, her father quickly moves on with a new life, leaving Rinnie, her older sister, and younger brother behind. Rinnie, in turn, bears the brunt of her mother's angry. Trying to be perfect for everyone drives Rinnie to starve herself as well as blame herself for her family's imperfections. As her mother becomes more and more out of control, Rinnie dives further into her world of ...more
Nov 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing story beginning at the level and physical height of a young child as she experiences her own personal perspective in a web of family dysfunctionality.
This clearly effects her views on relationships and life in general. The reader is left with a sense of hope as she matures in high school. There she is guided by a counselor who helps her view the reality of her world.
This is a great read for a young adult . It is a good starting off point to discuss family challenges
The book is
Alison McGhee
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Rinnie Gardener was born into a family with all the money to ease a child's way in the world but none of the tenderness that matters more. Rinnie is a born artist who moves through the world in painting and metaphor. Sensitive and soulful, the heartbreak in her life is her mother, maddening (and probably mad), cruel and unpredictably violent. How does a child survive not a lack of money but a lack of love? Rinnie Gardener, through the power of art and a devoted school counselor, finds the necess ...more
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up at the library. I wasn't sure what to expect but it was really good. Rinnie tells us her story about the years of physical and mental abuse she endured. As things in Rinnie's life change she meets someone who may be able to help her face the monster inside. This was a beautifully written book that deals with abuse tastefully. I know for a fact that if you hear it enough you will start to believe it. There is also great advice woven in the pages. This is a great book, I woul ...more
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-reads
Wow, this is one of my top 5 favorite books. The author's writing style is something that I'm very used to and I love it. It took me a while to get into the book, but about 15-20 pages in, I was hooked. I couldn't put this book down. I read it whenever I had spare time. The way Rinnie's mother treated her was absolutely heartbreaking. God, I can't write enough about how much I love this book. I highly recommend.
Nov 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
I got this book with first read program. This was an interesting one. I have to say this one surprised me .It is about a young girl dealing with a family disappointed in her . I liked the narrator being a young girl. I love the author style.The chapters are brief , but they can pack a punch. This one will stay with me for a while. I would recommend this one to anyone who likes to read books that are realistic YA or those who liked to read about families.
Anna Randall
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. It was so well written, especially for an author's first novel. Paint Me a Monster was amazing, and it had so much depth.
The book was centered around a girl named Rinnie Gardener, who lives a seemingly perfect life. But it isn't all that it seems. Her mother seems to think that she's a monster, and her father barely even treats her like she's a part of the family anymore. Rinnie must learn that she possesses self worth even though the voices in her head say otherwise.
Trina Marie
Dec 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Almost 3 stars. This book is unexpectedly really good- at first I wanted to give it a 3 because it seemed really slow, to speed up in unnecessary or random places and then slow down again. Plus, it only seemed to hint at Rinnie's problems with herself which didn't really give the book that full YA effect. It seemed to be implied and loosely spoken about, but never introduced or had a strong background with it. Overall, it ended up getting better and really good
Oct 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
What a fabulous book! Extremely well written story told from the perspective of a young girl growing up in a privileged environment in Ohio in the 50's and 60's. A wonderful insight into the thoughts and feelings and confusion caused by the behaviors of the adults in her life and how she eventually comes to understand them.
Erin Sterling
3.5 stars. This book of a girl growing up while her life falls apart and she turns to self-harming behavior was sad and hard to read. The writing was beautiful, but the pacing felt rushed--like you were getting snippets of her life starting when she was 4 and moving forward to when she's 14/15/16 as things fall apart and (sort-of) get put back together again.
Jill Baskin
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Paint Me a Monster is a compelling story of a young girl's journey through childhood and adolescence, and her struggle to navigate and overcome a series of difficult and disturbing issues within her family. Every family has its dysfunctions, but children bear the brunt of the pain they cause, and you feel this girl's pain, and her will to rise above it, on every page.
Lexi Scott
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
The beginning of this book was a little confusing. Until about the middle/3rd quarter, I wasn't understanding what the book was supposed to be about. The plot was scattered up until about then end, where it all came together. And that's why I give this book 2 stars..
Llyr Heller-Humphreys
Dana Davis-avants
rated it really liked it
Jul 19, 2014
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I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, with a crayon in one hand and a coloring book in the other. First I’d color pictures adding extra layers to dresses, high heeled shoes to feet, long sleeved gloves to arms, and lots of sparkly looking things around the edges of the picture. As I drew, I’d make up a story to go along with my picture. It was often about a princess named Janie, a dress designer named Jani
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