Carlene Inspired's Reviews > Paint My Body Red

Paint My Body Red by Heidi R. Kling
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really liked it
bookshelves: reviewed-books, young-adult, netgalley

You can find more of this review on my blog, Carlene Inspired.

Paige has agreed to spend the summer after high school at her dad's ranch in Wyoming, not so much because she wants to, but because she needs to get away. A string of suicides at her school have left her raw and disconnected. The smartest, most athletic, and popular kids are gone and her mom doesn't want her to be next. After years away from the ranch, Paige is surprised to see it bad condition, not realizing that her dad is incredibly ill. She also meets Jake, a handsome cowboy, who opens her eyes to a world she thought she'd left behind. As summer goes by, Paige finds herself again and processes the events from the school year prior.

I can't explain what this book did to me completely, but I can say this, it will leave you reeling. Heidi R. Kling writes about a very sensitive subject with tact, bravery (it's based on true events), and obvious experience. With a lot of grace, Kling writes about the suicides, the friends in pain, the worried family members, and Paige's processing of it all. Told in a past and present format, Paige's life in Wyoming continues moving forward, helping her grow mentally, and allowing herself to go back and write about what happened, the events, her feelings, what she wished she had done and how much it affected her. Without speaking about it anyone else, she processes it all alone.

The writing is beautiful, the "then" parts were raw and filled with heavy emotion, while the "now" Paige was slowly loosening up and finding her way. I liked Paige, a lot. While she may seem like the stuck up girl, as you get to know her, you find she's as lost as everyone else. You can feel her pain, as well as feel the worries the other characters have for her. As she deals with loss of classmates, she has to find a way to accept what her method of coping used to be. How she can forgive her parents, her stepbrother, and even herself. On top of that, her father's illness is a hard one, one that brings a whole new story line to the book. Heidi R. Kling not only wrote about suicide sensitively, but also long-term diseases and how that affects those in their life. There is also romance, something Kling wove into this story so smoothly you might not see it coming. It's the kind of romance that's a slow burn, that doesn't take over the story, and allows the reader to join the character in the journey. I saw strength in Paige and I really appreciated that the minor characters in this book, including her dad, his caretaker, and the cowboy, Jake, saw it in her too. The Wyoming Paige is like a different person, a different book, and yet it all comes together so well.

While Paint My Body Red is about a topic that's hard to imagine, experience, and talk about, the book itself is so easy to get into. With relatable characters, raw truth, and a lesson in acceptance, this book is one that I am happy to say I read and loved. I think it's a book that should be read, by everyone, and could easily be used to work with youth struggling through similar situations. I think it opens up a valuable discussion on self worth, honesty, and moving forward in life. This book may hurt to read, the sensitive subject may be too much for some, but I am grateful that Heidi R. Kling took the time to write something so meaningful and with such grace.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Entangled Teen for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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