Monday, June 5, 2017

Paint It Black by Janet Fitch | Review

With the recent movie release, I thought I better get my thoughts written out finally for this one. I picked it up as an audiobook from a thrift store. I've read White Oleander by Janet Fitch and loved her writing style, so I figured this one should be just as good. And I was right. 
Paint It Black by Janet Fitch
Published: September 18, 2006
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Received: purchased
Find Online: Goodreads | Amazon

Josie Tyrell, art model, teen runaway, and denizen of LA's 1980 punk rock scene, finds a chance at real love with art student Michael Faraday. A Harvard dropout and son of a renowned pianist, Michael introduces her to his spiritual quest and a world of sophistication she had never dreamed existed. But when she receives a call from the Los Angeles County Coroner, asking her to identify her lover's dead body, her bright dreams all turn to black. As Josie searches for the key to understanding his death, she finds herself both repelled and attracted to Michael's pianist mother, Meredith, who holds Josie responsible for her son's torment. Soon, the two women find themselves drawn into a twisted relationship reflecting equal parts distrust and blind need. 

Passionate, wounded, fiercely alive, Josie Tyrell walks the brink of her own destruction as she fights to discover the meaning of Michael's death. With the luxurious prose and emotional intensity that are her hallmarks, Janet Fitch has written a spellbinding new novel about love, betrayal, and the possibility of transcendence.

While this book is not nearly what White Oleander is, I still felt strongly about the story.  After seeing other's reviews, I think I'm glad I listened to the audiobook version. I'm wondering if the audio version somehow made this book more effective in showing the emotion involved in such a heartbreaking story.

We follow Josie in the 1980's punk scene as she learns about her beloved's death. We get to learn about Josie and Michael's relationship through memories Josie shares as she struggles to figure out why he would kill himself. She processes their time together from when they fell in love at art school (she's the model and he's the artist) to their lives living in a crappy little house. She thought they were happy together, but watching her reminisce maybe things weren't really as happy go lucky as she thought. There is a lot of darkness to their lives that I think they both glossed over before his death. Almost like, if we don't admit we can see it then it can't be real. Which is sad because obviously Micheal was suffering and she didn't know how to help him. Perhaps that is the grief she will be stuck dealing with, not reaching out to him in his time of need. I also think she finds out more about his life then he ever let her see.

Josie is not the only one to suffer at the loss of Michael. His mother Meredith is also stuck with her memories and grief. Somehow the two come together in a completely messed up way - since they both despise one another. Meredith blames Josie for Michael not being in their upper society life anymore and his death. Funny enough they seek each other out while trying to put the pieces together and find some sort of understanding and closure.

And LA itself is so important to the story and the descriptive storytelling that details the locations and scenes helps to add to the drama of Michael's suicide. All of the music, bars, art and drugs just add to the persona of LA.

Overall, it is quite a gritty story and I can understand some people not enjoying it, but I felt like it told the story of a tragedy and the love and life that got it to that point. After having listened to the audio, I actually pictured this being turned into a movie. Little did I know, it was already happening.

About the Author:
Janet Fitch was born in Los Angeles, a third-generation native, and grew up in a family of voracious readers. As an undergraduate at Reed College, Fitch had decided to become an historian, attracted to its powerful narratives, the scope of events, the colossal personalities, and the potency and breadth of its themes. But when she won a student exchange to Keele University in England, where her passion for Russian history led her, she awoke in the middle of the night on her twenty-first birthday with the revelation she wanted to write fiction. "I wanted to Live, not spend my life in a library. Of course, my conception of being a writer was to wear a cape and have Adventures." She has acquired a couple of capes since then, and a few adventures. And books. -source


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