Thursday, February 14, 2019

Book Review: Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

Title: Blood Water {aint
Written by: Mimi Yu
Published: March 6, 2018 by Dutton Books for Young Readers (Penguin Group)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: A debut novel based on the true story of the iconic painter, Artemisia Gentileschi. 

Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice: a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father's paint. 

 She chose paint. 

By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome's most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the cost. 

He will not consume 
my every thought. 
I am a painter. 
I will paint. 

I will show you 
what a woman can do.

I was very interested in reading his book when it came out last year but I shy away from novels in verse so I didn’t read it. But I needed a new audiobook and when I saw this from the library, I am glad I picked it up because it wasn’t an easy read but it was a really good read.

Wow, this book did not shy away from some of the worst aspects of what it meant to be a woman during this period of history. It really goes there when it comes to abuse and sexual assault. One of the more interesting things is that it not only showed the actual sexual assault but the lead up to it and the impact it had on the character's life. And the saddest thing is that it is based on a real person and the main plot points actually happened to her. It was tough to read at times, but also still very empowering.

One of the things I appreciated most about this book was the agency she gave her main character. Artemisia is a historical figure I knew very little about and now I am really glad to know her. She is the kind of female character I always enjoy because she showed tremendous strength in the face of some of the worst possible adversity. It was easy to root for Artemisia and to want her to triumph over the men who mistreated her in the worst possible way.

But the author’s gorgeous writing was a much needed contrast with the brutal subject matter. This my first novel in verse and I honestly don't know what my hang up with the format was before. Now, I did listen to this as an audiobook so I don't know what it would be like in a written format but this definitely worked. At times I often found myself forgetting it wasn't a traditional novel. It just gave the book a poetic flow that added some needed beauty and depth to the more difficult subject matter.

This book is not for the faint of heart but it is a great read and one that I wish didn’t feel so current. It is a feminist and empowering piece of historical fiction perfect for the MeToo era.

I give Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. If you like historical fiction or are looking for an issue book, I would definitely recommend this one. It doesn't sugar coat some serious things women experienced throughout history and are still experiencing today.

Have you read Blood Water Paint? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

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