Saturday, April 27, 2013

{Tour Stop} Book Review: Paint Me Beautiful by C.M. Stunich

Title: Paint Me Beautiful (A Duet #1)
Author: C.M. Stunich

Pages: 464
Published: April 03, 2013

Publisher: Sarian Royal
Book Source: From the author for the blog tour
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
 


My Review: *POSSIBLE SPOILERS*

 18-year-old Claire Simone just graduated high school. She is now in the process of pursuing her dream of becoming a model. Claire attends casting call after casting call, yet never receives a call back. Claire's image of her body is distorted, so she believes it's because she is too overweight to be what they want; to be noticed in a good way.

Claire has already been counting calories and eating only the merest of meals. After one particularly difficult casting call, Claire makes the decision to fast. She won't eat anything until she is skinny enough to get the modeling job she so disparately covets.

But those around her see what she does not—she's slowly killing herself.

Claire's family tries to get through to her, but their overbearing ways only succeed in making her angry and even more determined.

The only person who seems to understand Claire is Emmett.
“No matter what I do, no matter how I look or how low I stoop, Emmett doesn't judge me.”
Emmett and Claire meet by chance at the mall during one of Claire's many castings. The two become close very quickly and intensely. Claire can't make up her mind—is Emmett a threat to her future, or the one person who can help her save herself?
“Emmett Sinclair will save me in more ways than one, and I'll hate him for it. I'll curse his name and even wish for brief seconds in time that he was dead, or at the very least out of my life for good. Later though, later I'll understand that he saved my life and breathed beauty into my dreams.”
Paint Me Beautiful is the story of Claire's struggle with anorexia.

- - -

As per usual, I will start with what I didn't like.

All of my problems seem to revolve around Emmett. One of them is that I think he could've used a bit more character development. We see that he is kind, patient, flirty, and absolutely amazing... but we don't learn much of his background. I want to know who he is. I'm hoping for a better look at his past in the sequel.

Another issue I had (and this is more of a personal opinion, I suppose) was how often Claire and Emmett fooled around or had sex. I am all for a tumble in the bed, but when the dashing Emmett is having sex and being aroused by what is described as a “ghastly, walking skeleton” and a “zombie with flaky flash and hair that's falling out in clumps,” I seriously have to question his, I don't know, mental stability? Morals? The same feeling I had was expressed in the book by Claire's sister Marlena, but it was unclear if this view was being portrayed as close-minded, ignorant, or something else. Either way, I couldn't wrap my head around it.

This is not to say that the romance wasn't spectacularly done, because it was. Claire and Emmett are two people who seem to be made for each other. They begin to fall for one another pretty quickly, but the connection they have makes it seem like that have known each other for years, not weeks.

This book was easy to compare to Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls. Wintergirls is a book I am not fond of. I think it was an author trying too hard to be poetic about something that is sad and tragic. I see Paint Me Beautiful as a more realistic portrayal of anorexia and the things that often go along with it, such as alienation and self-mutilation. Where Anderson seemed to glorify self-harm into something beautiful, I feel that Stunich wrote about it in a more respectful, and again, realistic manner. This is something that is close to my heart because of a dear friend of mine, and I applaud this author for handling the subject with such care and tact. Same with the topic of anorexia.

Now let me talk about cliffhangers for a moment. If you hate 'em, beware. LOL C.M. Stunich throws the mother of all cliffhangers at you with this book. Once I picked my jaw up off the floor, I wasn't sure whether to applaud or throw my Kindle across the room. It's just evil! EVIL CLIFFHANGER OF EVILNESS! I wouldn't have it any other way, though. The ending fit the story perfectly, and definitely leaves a strong impression on the reader. It's also great for making them anxious for the next book (I certainly am!).

All in all, Paint Me Beautiful was a fantastic story. I feel that it is an honest, accurate portrayal of what it's like to struggle with an eating disorder and distorted body image. Claire's journey is heartbreaking and difficult to watch, but it's all done with a pinprick of hope in the days and weeks to come. Claire has to hit rock-bottom before she can begin to pick herself up and put the pieces of her life back together. Emmett is the perfect confidant during this struggle. He speaks what he feels, but respects the simple fact that you can't force someone to want help. They have to get to that point all on their own. Emmett puts himself into a position that I consider guardian angel-esque. He watches over Claire, tries to engage her in eating healthy and cooking for fun, but never pushes her. It's an inspiring story all around. If you can look past the ugly—the anorexia, the self-mutilation, the massive amounts of denial—you will be able to see that overcoming something so awful and dangerous, so all-consuming, is an impressive feat and something to be proud of, not ashamed.

This book covers some hot-button issues, but the author handles them with grace and respect. I really enjoyed this book and I think it's very relevant to the world today—especially in teens.

It's an emotional roller coaster of a story—one that ends in a massive cliffhanger! But it's beautiful and inspirational. I definitely recommend it, and I can't wait for the next book.

~ 4 OF 5 STARS ~

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This review is part of the Paint Me Beautiful blog tour
Hosted by B3 Blog Tours