Sunday, October 22, 2006

Paint it Black - Janet Fitch

Paint It Black
Janet Fitch
Little, Brown and Company


When she was a teenager, Josie Tyrell ran away from her white trash home in Bakersfield, sure that she’d find her own paradise in Los Angeles. Part of the early-80s punk rock scene, Josie supports herself by working as an artist’s model. Meeting Michael Faraday seems like the workings of Fate to her. Michael, a sometimes genius, comes from a wealthy family, is educated, and has traveled all over the world. To Josie, he embodies all the qualities she lacks. He is also a painter prone to deep depressions. He enraged his parents, a concert pianist and a writer, by dropping out of Harvard to paint. His pride makes him refuse financial help from his mother, leaving Josie to work multiple jobs just to support the two of them.

In the tradition of blind first love, she finds their situation somehow romantic. That is, until the call comes, informing her that Michael committed suicide in a rundown motel. In an instant, her world is shattered. The arrival of Michael’s mother, Meredith, does nothing to comfort her. In fact, Meredith initially places the blame on Josie. At first glance, these two women have nothing in common. But slowly, their shared pain binds them together.

Black, or perhaps charcoal, is the best descriptor for this novel by the author of WHITE OLEANDER. There’s a lot of pain, a lot of baggage, and not too many answers. This is quite realistic in the wake of a loved one’s suicide. The painful truth is that, sometimes, there are no ‘good’ answers. Josie and Meredith, very different characters are each given an astounding depth and complexity. While the overall tone is somber, the final pages hint at hope for the future.

Rating: 7
October 2006
ISBN# 0-316-18274-5 (hardcover)


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