*Read this ARC via NetGalley
This death defying book gets a fresh 4 out of 5 gnomes for having a sympathetic main character who's flawed yet great and for taking place in and exploring a very unique profession.
Donna has been mourning her father for four years and can't seem to get over his loss. He seems to have been the glue that was holding the family together. Her family has dealt with this loss each in their own different ways. Her brother got out of the house asap, her sister has gone a little emo/goth and loves to dye her hair different colors and her mom seems to be holding together pretty well but there are indeed signs that show how much she misses him. Donna on the other hand has withdrawn into herself and just isn't the same person that she used to be. This begins to change in the first chapter when Donna gets the first inkling of what she might like to do with her life.
There is of course lots of death in the story. Instead of being depressing though all the death ends up being a really insightful window into the world of these characters and shows the myriad of ways that people react when a loved one dies. I especially love the information sheets that are sprinkled throughout the book that talk about certain characters and what they were like like and then seeing how their funeral is planned and what people said at the funeral.
Donna's friends are a mixed bag. I feel like she's one of those people that just sits at a certain lunch table because that's what's expected of her. Then a new girl shows up at school and seems to pull Donna out of her shell. She gets really close to Liz and through Liz she starts to see that there are lots of choices out there in the world.
Everything that takes place at the funeral home really makes you think of how you would act in the same situation. It shows that death and everything that comes with it needs someone to put everything together and make arrangements for/with those that are left behind. Hearing about all the different processes that it takes to make a body ready for a funeral are extremely intriguing. Of course the reader gets a look at as the title says, putting makeup on dead people.
The story encompasses a lot of themes like finding the right person, mourning, being true to yourself, and it also demonstrates some interesting family dynamics. Donna goes through an awful lot in this book and at the end I think the reader is left with the impression that she's on her way to being a better person.