Saturday Read: Paint it Black, by Janet Fitch

If the name Janet Fitch sounds familiar to you, that’s because I’ve already reviewed her first novel “White Oleander.” I was so impressed with that book that I decided to pick up her second book, “Paint it Black.” I know that it’s the Christmas season and all my book picks should be holly and jolly, but I’m making an exception for “Paint it Black” because I was just so excited to read it.

Set in the 1980’s, “Paint it Black” tells the story of Josie Tyrell, a redneck, trailer-park runaway who lives in LA with her boyfriend, Michael Faraday. They are frequenters of the bustling LA rock scene and happy living in their small shack, Michael painting and Josie modeling now and again so they can pay the rent. When Michael suddenly commits suicide, Josie is rocked and as she uncovers parts of Michael’s past that he never shared, she begins to question everything she used to know to be real.

If the storyline isn’t enough to draw you in, the very talented author will. Janet Fitch is an AMAZING writer. Usually, I skim over sections of a book, usually the unnecessarily long descriptions, but I find it impossible to skim over Fitch’s writing. She has a beautiful grasp of the English language and most importantly, I never find her writing boring. She created an incredibly interesting story with “Paint it Black” that is at once both so different than what most of us know and yet so real. I have never run away from home,slummed it in some dirty apartment in LA, or lost the person I love most, but Fitch’s writing makes me feel it and understand it and know it.

The story also really speaks to the reader and pushes us to evaluate things in our own lives. Josie’s entire world falls apart and she is forced to redefine herself. Being in a relationship myself, it was neat to take a step back and think about how I would redefine myself if it ended. I think most people depend on others to create an identity and Josie’s story reminds us of the importance of holding on to who we are despite how attached we might become to our partner.

Oh yeah, and besides providing a great moral lesson, “Paint it Black” kept my attention through all 448 pages (and that is a LONG time!).

As I said before, “Paint it Black” is not a super cheerful book, but it can warm your heart, nonetheless. It has an important message, legitimate characters and a very down-to-earth storyline. If you’re looking for something good to read curled up under a blanket during your winter break, I highly recommend adding “Paint it Black” to your wish list.

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