Heather's Reviews > Putting Makeup on Dead People

Putting Makeup on Dead People by Jen Violi
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's review
Sep 16, 2011

it was amazing

Inspiring and powerful. I wish I had written this book. Not just because it involves scientific fascination with death and corpses, but also because it has such strong themes on spiritual transformation. Violi pegs it. Donna's experience and choices align with what the deepest parts of me understand about the process. There are also the philosophical ties, along with relationship dynamics that apply universally.

My favorite part? That Donna's self-actualization drives her at first to instinctually pull away from her traditional upbringing, but then her sorrow at her emotional breaks with things and those she loves drives her to carefully assess and sort through what she really wants and believes. Relationships with religion and people don't have to be an all or nothing thing. They can also be a careful dance of compromises that leaves room for both the other and the self.

Donna allowing herself to get drunk, and then, while drunk, allowing a boy she doesn't even really care about get to third base...well, that's a scene I think pre-sexual teens might want to discuss with a wise adult if they read this book. Violi paints a girl who doesn't know for herself what to do about such circumstances, and so, having no strong opinions, goes along with the flow. And later she paints that character coming to know what she wants for herself, standing up for herself, and walking away from a bad situation. I hope people inexperienced in partying and sex finish this and realize they have some pre-experience decisions to make, and some pre-experience self worth to build. You can't wait and figure it out when you get there, you need to know ahead of time what you are worth, and what you plan to do to protect that valuable self of yours.
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