They think I'm next. That I'll be the seventh kid to step in front of a train and end my life. With the rash of suicides at my school, Mom's shipped me off to my dad's Wyoming ranch for "my own safety." They think I'm just another depressed teenager whose blood will end up on the tracks. They don't know my secrets...or what I've done.
I wasn't expecting Dad to be so sick, for the ranch I loved to be falling to bits, or for Jake-the cute boy I knew years ago-to have grown into a full-fledged, hot-as-hell cowboy. Suddenly, I don't want to run anymore, but the secrets from home have found me...even here. And this time, it's up to me to face them-and myself-if I want to live...
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.80(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Paint My Body Red
By Heidi R. Kling, Heather Howland
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Heidi R. Kling
All rights reserved.
It's two weeks after high school graduation, and I'm not much more than a monster of madness when my mom drops me off at San Francisco International Airport. It feels more like a life flight than a vacation.
"You don't have to walk me in," I mumble.
It's easier to lose myself in the darkness of my life when I'm alone.
My mother's impeccably manicured hands flutter against my shoulder like she's trying to help me with my bag, so tentatively, she might as well be wearing a HAZMAT suit. She can't wait to get me on that plane.
"I'm eighteen, Mom. I can carry my own bag."
"You'll always be my baby, Paige."
Her baby. Right. Babies are innocent, pure, harmless. I'm the opposite.
The official reason I'm leaving town is to see my sick dad — the father I barely know, the man who hardly knows me — but mom and I both know the real reason I'm being sent away: to avoid being Dead Kid #7. To see if I can be saved.
The dirty secrets we don't talk about — they're the reason I'm leaving. Not the obvious things that everyone else sees: not the yellow tape screaming caution, not the blood on the tracks, not the deaths — but everything in between — everything that happened during, before, since. It's the empty space that screams between my ears at night, shrill and violent, lurking beneath the silence. It's his voice — seductive, thrilling, menacing — that haunts me. Ghostly, but permanent. Ty's unescapable threats.
"Seriously," I snap while she hovers, wanting to touch me, wanting to be a good mother. "You don't have to wait with me."
Her eyebrows pinch. She's hurt. I hurt her. Again. She stops reaching and lets her hands fall to her sides. I feel bad for a second, but then I remember why I'm here. Where they are sending me. And most importantly why. And I'm angry all over again. At them. At him. At her. But mostly him.
Anger, the second stage of grief. Anger is easier than the suffocating blanket of black I'm treading under. The unrelenting sadness I was drowning in before.
"If you're sure ..." She wipes the corner of her eye with her sleeve, streaking the pale yellow cashmere black with mascara.
On the street, taxis whiz by, cars honk. I hug my arms and wince. I wasn't always like this. I wasn't even remotely like this. I was an easy kid. An easy teen. I did what I was told: got good grades, had nice friends, cleared my plate after supper.
I have no idea who I am anymore. The Paige I used to be wouldn't have done any of the things I did.
But I did do them. And I can't take them back.
Above us, the monorail rumbles by, and I jump. Even though it looks like a harmless Disneyland ride, my eyes are glued to the tracks, knowing what it could do. I remember the article I read about the conductor driving the train — how he hears the sound of 400 tons of metal hitting the body off the tracks at 40 mph; how the thud haunts his sleep.
The monorail's speakers warn the passengers in a monotone voice, "Terminal B. Next stop, Terminal B. Stay back from the closing doors. Move away from the tracks."
I feel sick. At least the scream stays trapped in my head.
Mom looks at me like I'm an open wound. "You sure you have your ticket?"
My wallet is clenched in my sweaty hand.
"A car will be there to pick you up in Wyoming. If you don't see it right away, call me immediately. If you don't have cell reception, use the land line in the gift shop."
"Shouldn't I, like, hail a horse instead?" Sarcastic humor. Another "defense mechanism" I use. Unfortunately, the words come out sounding panicked instead.
Her eyebrow arches.
"It was a joke." And maybe it'll feel like one, eventually.
My mother swallows a deep breath of foggy, smoggy Bay Area air and lets it out slowly in a poof. This is a response I'm used to. Lucky for her, she won't have to deal with me anymore.
The next monorail slows to a stop, hardly making a sound, but I hear horns blasting, distant screams. I see bare feet sticking out of a yellow sheet that looks like a rain slicker.
It isn't raining.
My mother cups my head in her hands, forcing my eyes away from the tracks and onto her. "Stop. Paige, you just have to stop."
Despite the fact that my mother's body language screams don't even try, despite the fact that I know I need to go — that there's no way, after everything that's happened, that I can possibly stay — I still want to beg her to let me. I want to dive back into her unbearably perfumed car, have her ruffle my hair, and suggest we have a girls' afternoon of lunch and a matinee like we did before I grew up too fast and she stopped asking. I want to find a reset button on her BMW's dash and start this year over like it's one of Ty's video games instead of my life, because everything about this moment screams Game Over.
With hard edges and perfect hair, she reaches out to hug me. I shrug her off harder than I intend. I can't stand being touched anymore, even by my mom who isn't trying to hurt me.
"Sorry," I say, and I am — for not letting her help me, for not letting her touch me, for leaving her with a mess too big to clean up, and most importantly for the secrets floating around her perfect house, leaving a layer of filth she'll never be able to scrub off.
"It's fine." She shakes her head sadly. "Do you have your pills?"
"Did you take a Xanax?" She looks around, ensuring our privacy. God forbid some random tourist heading to Alcatraz hears the perfect CEO's daughter is taking medication for anxiety.
"A half, yeah," I lie. I don't want to take my newly prescribed pills. Addiction runs in my family — even the people I'm not biologically related to. That's the last thing I need.
"Maybe you should take a whole one before the flight."
She bites her lip. "You don't look fine. You look pale. You didn't eat anything this morning."
"It's not a magic bean, Mom. It's not going to fix anything."
I look down at my shoes. My legs are so thin now they flop over the bench like a stuffed scarecrow's limbs. I lost weight ... after. I try to eat, I do, but my appetite is non-existent. I know I'm pale, that my hair is a mess. I know she thinks I've given up, but I haven't. It's the opposite. All I want to do is run. Run away. Run far away. It's that surge of energy that keeps me going.
It's why I agreed to leave.
I tilt my head up and stare into the foggy sky — After spending nearly the entire month in my bedroom staring at the ceiling, being outside is scary enough.
"Seriously, I'm okay, Mom. You don't have to wait with me."
She hesitates. "I do have that meeting with the VCs ..."
Venture capitalists. They are to the Silicon Valley what stockbrokers are to New York City: the money, the big numbers my mother loves chasing. "You don't want to keep VCs waiting," I say.
My mother gestures toward my new designer carry-on suitcase and matching leather laptop bag. "This isn't forever, sweetie. Just until ..."
Her words disappear into the mucky sky.
Until it's safe to come home?
Until I'm safe to come home?
Until I stop thinking about him?
Until I leave for Wesleyan in the fall?
All around us busy travelers are rushing through the swivel doors into the airport.
"Excuse us," a lady says. She's pushing a stroller carrying a raisin-eating toddler. She glances back at her husband who is wrestling a little boy's backpack onto his small shoulders. He tells him it's his responsibility to carry his own toys onto the plane. He scoffs at the idea and then ends up nodding.
Responsibility. When did I stop claiming it?
My stomach clenches. I can't remember the last time I've eaten, but I might puke right here on the sidewalk. "I need to go," I think I say out loud.
The traffic control lady scoots up behind us dressed in polyester pants and an orange crossing guard vest. She motions for us to get moving, to move the black BMW, engine still running, hazard-lights on, leaning against the red NO STOPPING AT ANYTIME curb.
My mother, who isn't used to others telling her what to do, peers at her over her glasses as if to say, You ask me to move it before I'm ready, I'll run you over with it. She follows up the glare with the straight-up-pointy-French-manicure finger, which means, I'll deal with you in a sec.
"I love you," Mom says, her expression melting some when she faces me. Her icy voice cracks like I'm her broken baby bird leaving the nest. She feels guilty for pushing me out before I'm ready to fly. But she's going to do it anyway. "Call me if you need anything. I'll come right away."
Uh-huh. Right. "You hate Wyoming. You hate Dad. Besides, you can't leave Phil."
She blinks. A good mom would come. She's always wanted to be a good mom, but she was much better at being CEO of an influential startup and serving her own agenda, whether it was tearing down a large section of our house to make new offices for her and Phil or ripping me out of my dad's arms all those years ago as I cried and screamed.
I'm right — she won't come — but she argues anyway.
"I certainly do not hate your father. Do I find it ironic he's suffering from ALS and not from alcohol-induced liver failure? I do. But most importantly, I love you. Give him my —" Something — guilt? — spider webs across her face as she struggles over what message to convey to my father, the ex-husband she left in an ugly fashion and hasn't seen in years. "Give him my best, okay?"
I can't help defending him. "He's been sober for years, hasn't he? But okay."
Her eyes widen, and I know what she's thinking: Do you really want to get into anything personal right now? No. I don't. In fact, that's the last thing I want. I'm not in a place to do any chastising anymore. Not about my father. Not about anything. And though we don't say it out loud, we both know it. I equal parts love and despise her, ironically similar to the way I feel about her stepson.
When she moves in close enough to give me an awkward pat on the back and grazes my cheek with a kiss that feels more like a sting, she smells like taxi exhaust and a new scent I don't recognize. She looks like my mom but smells like a stranger, and I'm certain she feels the same way about me.CHAPTER 2
When I arrive at Jackson Hole's pincushion of an airport and stumble down the narrow metal stairs, immediately it hits me, flooding my senses — air so dry and pine fresh it ought to star in its own commercial. After months of holding my breath, stomach clamped awaiting the next disaster, I inhale in quiet desperation as my lungs fill with this once familiar air. Maybe my mother was right. Maybe a fresh start will be the pill that finally works. No one to stress out over, no death, no responsibilities, no one's life to endanger simply by existing — just a couple months of breathing in and out.
I can do that.
I can do that if I can breathe. After years of living at sea level, breathing mountain air feels like sucking air through a straw.
I don't realize I've stopped walking until my suitcase rolls into the back of my calves and tips over. The Grand Tetons unfold before me, cragged and magnificent. The mountain range rears up like a lioness of rock defending her territory. I like that I'm so small in comparison. It'll be easier to disappear this way, pretend I'm not even here. The summer months will slip by, and if I'm still around by September, I'll slip off to college to disappear again.
And the sky above me, the blue, blue, cloudless sky — the color of sapphires — I tilt my head back and just look.
Tourists breeze past me, chattering on their way to their ranch and national park vacations. No one is paying attention to me, and I like that, too. Even though caffeine makes my anxiety worse, when I finally tear my eyes away from the blue sky, I buy a latte at a small stand in the lobby with the intention of drinking it while I wait for my ride. A woman with three carry-ons smashes past me, and before I've taken a sip, the hot liquid splashes all over my black T-shirt. Pissed off, I find some wet-wipes in my bag and mop some of it up, but the shirt is essentially trashed. I can't see my dad after all this time looking like this, so I stumble into the tiny gift shop and flip through the sale rack.
As expected, everything is cheesy tourist junk. I narrow it down to an extra-large blue moose T-shirt with Christmas lights on its antlers that says "Welcome to Moose, Wyoming" which would delight an eight-year-old boy, or an extra-small pink tank top that reads "Cowgirl" in glittery silver letters. I appreciate the irony of the latter as I'm about as much a cowgirl now as I am a pillar of sanity, so I toss it onto the counter.
An old-timer with a big gut tucked into blue jeans and under an even bigger belt buckle makes small talk while giving me my change. "You going to check out Old Faithful while you're here?"
"I doubt it. I'm visiting family," I say vaguely.
I don't want to give an inch of personal information but he's staring at me, waiting. "My dad," I finally say.
"Ah! Who's your old man?"
"You probably don't know him — Gus Mason?"
His face molds into an expression I've seen too many times: a funeral face. I'm confused when he offers up a bleak, "Give him my best."
Uncomfortably done with me, the man shifts his attention to a customer asking about Old Faithful up in Yellowstone an hour or so from here. She's wondering about the chances of it going haywire and killing everyone in the vicinity. Can't even count on Old Faithful anymore, I guess. You better go home then.
In the bathroom stall, I rip off my wet black T-shirt and shove it into the sticky metal feminine products dispenser. I want to rip off my white city jeans — my bra and panties, too, for that matter — but I don't have replacements for those yet. I remember the man's strange expression when I mentioned my dad. What's his deal? Old enemies? Or is Dad not doing well? Mom would've told me, right?
When I wash my hands, my face in the mirror isn't me anymore than this Cowgirl shirt is me. My once-bright eyes are one-percent milk, and once-silky hair is old straw. I squeeze my cheeks to bring up blood and bite my lips to paint them red.
A half hour later, I'm still waiting at the curb, my arms getting burned in the high altitude sunshine. I don't miss the fog, but the dry heat will take some getting used to. Sweating, I'm about to give up and call the ranch for a ride when I spot a Jeep with Eight Hands Ranch written on the side in bold Western-style black letters sitting in the middle of the small parking lot.
Dad's is called Six Hands Ranch. I wondered if somebody copied it? Might as well go check it out; I have nothing else to do. My nerves shake like a bottle of soda in the hands of a toddler as I get closer. Six has clearly been painted over and replaced by Eight. A bolt of anxiety shoots through my veins, an instinctive cue of something minor meaning something much bigger — the same feeling I got when the gift shop clerk shot me that funeral stare. Something's up.
It's so still and quiet that I don't think anyone is in the driver's seat until I'm almost at the Jeep. The driver's seat is leaned way back, and I'm startled to find a lanky cowboy snoozing away in a pair of country-boy jeans — dirt-stained and well-worn. Above an unbuttoned collar of an equally dirty plaid shirt, a brown riding hat tips over the guy's eyes, exposing the smooth, square jaw of a young cowboy maybe a little older than me. Again I check out the door. EIGHT HANDS RANCH and sure enough it's our family's icon — a silhouette of a mustang rearing up in front of the Grand Tetons.
"Excuse me?" I ask, carefully. My request cracks through my desert of a throat, reminding me I haven't spoken louder than a mumble since I got on the plane.
Excerpted from Paint My Body Red by Heidi R. Kling, Heather Howland. Copyright © 2015 Heidi R. Kling. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I received a copy of this title to read and review for Wicked Reads. I wasn't sure what to expect when I began Paint My Body Red. I enjoyed the storyline – the location. Going against the norm, a girl who was born in Wyoming, raised in California, returns to her roots for a few months before she ventures to college on the East coast. Paige says goodbye to the demons of her past while giving her final goodbyes to her father, all the while reconnecting with the land and finding love where she least expected it. My emotions ran the gamut from smiling to bawling my eyes out, and then back again in a roller coaster ride of emotions. I don't wish to ruin it by giving a play-by-play. But I will say there was no insta-love, no cheesy eye-roll-worthy teenage girl obsessed with boys inner monologue. No overplayed and overused tropes of jealousy and miscommunications to take the place of real storytelling. Fluid, the book flowed as reality. Paige: a strong female lead. A good role model. Neither whiny nor perfect. Flaws forged the character into someone who acted and reacted most certainly human. As an eighteen-year-old, Paige doesn't fall into the trap of being bossy/TSTL/know-it-all/helpless yet does-it-all. Anti-cliché. The girl was a well-rounded character with traits that followed human nature. Adult readers may find Paige's earlier actions hard to swallow, but one must remember what it felt like to be newly 18. In my 30s, I'm just now able to recognize things I would have been too blind to see in my late teens. Be empathetic while reading this very tough subject matter. The parents were flawed as well – all the side characters were, but not overtly so. Even those who could have been vilified were painted with an empathetic brush. There was no right or wrong, only consequences and life lessons worth learning. My only partial negative, I had difficulty engaging with the book in the beginning. Not the Now sections. Then was difficult for me to grasp at first. The flow was a bit jarring, the Now | Then | Now | Then in short bursts, sometimes only a half a page in a time-frame. I was never confused as to what was happening when. But by the middle of the story, the flow eventually evened out and became fluid. I enjoyed Heidi R. Kling's voice, storytelling, even with the dark subject matter. I'd recommend it to those who need a highly emotional read, but be forewarned to keep the tissues handy. Anyone who needs a warm, cuddly read, please come back when you're emotionally ready. Would I read more by this author? I intend to see what other stories Kling has written. Suggested Young Adult age-range: mature 14 – 16 due to dark content, suicide, grief/mourning, and sexual content. More told than shown, but that didn't dampen the impact of the moral. Parents, gauge your child's maturity level, but I do believe it's an appropriate and necessary read to broaden all minds. Genre: Young adult | Coming of Age | High School Graduate transitioning to college | Dark subject matter | Slight mystery/suspense feel | Realistic Romance | More heart-warming than heart-breaking |
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the digital book of Paint My Body Red by Heidi R. Kling! This story involves a depressed main character, Paige, who is dealing with something terrible (the reader has to wait to find out all of the details) and she is leaving her mother to visit her sick father that she hasn't seen in a long time. Paige arrives in Wyoming and sees how much her father has deteriorated. While confronting this trauma and comforting her father the best way she can, she renews her friendship with Jake, a ranch hand that used to be her close friend when they were younger. The mystery of past events becomes revealed a snippet at a time, as the story is told in parts of then and now and goes from tragic sadness to heartwarming happiness. The complex story flows well and the author bring the characters alive, which helps the reader relate to and gain empathy for them. I give Paint My Body Red 5 stars because Heidi R. Kling pulled all the aspects of this complicated story together cohesively and kept it riveting!
Paint My Body Red is a tough read about a tough girl who makes some touch choices (some of which she ultimately regrets, but when one is going through hard times, one doesn't always make the best decisions). The setting flips back and forth between current time and the past in two completely different states, slowly unravelling the storyline as you learn how things got to be the way they are whilst watching Paige come out of her shell as she re-acclimates herself to her dad and where she grew up. Paint My Body Red is a good read; though almost two totally different books (both with the main character). With that said, Heidi executes it well, and I never found myself annoyed at having to be in one place while the book was in the other. In the end, you get exactly what you were hoping for. I think anyone who enjoys YA contemporary reads, country/cowboy contemporary reads, romance, and tough issues (like suicide) will appreciate this book. *I'd say this book is highly UPPER YA due to MANY situations.
A no-holds-barred look at the intense world that has created a series of real-life suicide clusters in one upscale California town, Heidi Kling’s Paint My Body Red is as much a deeply thought-out critique of the circumstances contributing to these tragedies, as it as an ultimately uplifting story about hope and renewal. Paint My Body Red strips away any pretense and tackles these issues head-on. But make no mistake; this book is beautifully written and intricately plotted. As in life, the book is about more than just one thing. The character is also coping with the aftermath of a failed relationship and her father’s failing health. She’s about to go off to college, and is uncertain about her future and what she wants from it. Many of her friends (and frenemies) have killed themselves in the last year, and she wonders both is she (at least partly) to blame, and could she be next? Kling has commented that editors told her this book had “too much” to be contained within a single novel. That these issues covered multiple books. But Kling — rightly so — insisted it was one book. Because even though these many multi-faceted issues make for a complicated story, it offers the most honest reflection of real life. It’s messy. It’s complicated. And we can’t limit our lives to just one issue. We have to deal with a lot of crap, often all at once — and that is where Kling’s talent truly shines. Deftly maneuvering her story to show all of life’s messes and complications and its beauty in one, stunning novel.
Although tough material was tackled in this sociologically current novel, I closed the book after the last page and let out a happy sigh. Heidi Kling, you rocked this novel! I will honestly admit that I had some reservations going into this book due to the subject matter - suicide, illness, rape and death. I would have completely cheated myself, if I hadn't delved right in. The book is written in Paige's POV, but that doesn't hinder what we experience with the the other characters in the story. With Paige's conversations, descriptions and inner dialogue, Heidi Kling was still able to take every role in this book, major or minor, and give them authentic and believable voices. This is incredibly true with Paige as she is forced to grow up quickly with the events that take place around her, but yet she still longs to be mommy and daddy's little girl. Paige is probably one of the most well-written and honest characters that I have read all year. As for the romance, I couldn't love a hero more than Jake. He's the perfect laid back cowboy for Paige and the intense recovery from her tumultuous year. After a book like Paint My Body Red I'm reminded why I love to read. I was given a copy of Paint My Body Read via the publisher in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.
PAINT MY BODY RED is a haunting tale of Paige, who lives in a Silicon, Ca community where it's the 'norm' to pressure teens to succeed and the painful ramifications that follow. In Paige's high school one so-called successful teen ends up killing himself and leaves behind questions of why someone like him would want to do this. Then another teen follows in what becomes a string of suicides that rock her town. Paige has her own secrets which involve a 'hot' stepbrother. Then something happens that has her mother send her back to her father's ranch in Wyoming. The story goes back and forth between 'then' and 'now' and gives readers a glimpse into Paige's world where the push for success has a bitter cost. What worked: I love Kling's writing and PAINT MY BODY RED highlights her emotion packed scenes with pain-wrenching reveals throughout. Readers see the cost of parents that push their children to succeed to the point that anything fun is considered a dirty word. The pressure to get into the best schools and the aftermath of those teens that 'break' is heart breaking. This novel alternates between 'then' and 'now' scenes where readers get glimpses on what lead to Paige being sent back to Wyoming. I admit, I'm usually not a fan of this writing style but in PAINT MY BODY RED, it works. There were more than a few times that I didn't see a reveal coming. Paige witnesses the string of suicides which involve someone close to her. There's other factors which involve her stepbrother Ty. The interactions and fallout between Paige and Ty's relationship shows how someone can manipulate a 'bad' situation into something even worse. Kling doesn't hold back and the raw emotions mingled with powerful images are wow-worthy. The Wyoming scenes are where Paige slowly comes to life. The relationship between her and cowboy Jake are intense but not over the top. The compare and contrast between Ty and Jake are shown in vivid details. Jake becomes more of an anchor to her life while Ty's so-called attraction is based more on his wants. How Ty doesn't take no for an answer and how he manipulates Paige to feel guilty over their forbidden relationship is chilling. The guilt, pain, and abhorrence she feels on what happened between her and Ty makes her feel as if no one would want her as she was 'damaged' goods. Readers find out how far this goes at a terrifying reveal. No spoilers here! I loved the playful dialogue between Paige and Jake. She opens up to him, not at first, but gradually and when they do get together? Wow. There's something real and intense between the two of them that readers feel right at their first encounter. You want them to be together. I know I did! Another part of this story is Paige's reaction to her father who she finds is suffering from ALS. At first she feels awkward around him but their relationship is more of forgiveness and acceptance. While in Wyoming Paige arcs and still has to make some very difficult choices. It would have been so easy to end this story with a big bright bow but Kling shows us a flawed heroine who grows into someone that no longer calls herself a victim but rather is a survivor. PAINT MY BODY RED has gut-wrenching tragedy shown with unflinching honesty and where salvation is set behind a Wyoming backdrop. Real, honest, and intense this is a story that will stay with you long after you finish the last page. Originally posted at YABC: http://www.yabookscentral.com/yafiction/18817-pain
Sooo... Most of the time after finishing a book I dive straight to another one. But there are sometimes where you finish a book and simply need a time to THINK about it. And this book is one of them. I had a love/hate relationship with this one. I hated and liked Paige. But honestly I hated her at the start of the book but ended up loving her. She grows from being an annoying, idiot girl to a brave, strong and wise woman. As the blurb of the book says Paige is shipped off to her dad's Wyoming ranch. She's in a bad shape, having nightmares and a past mistake ghost hunting her every night. She's numb and not living at all, and it's not until she's in Eight Hands Ranch again, where she starts discovering herself again. The book is told from Now and Then, we are told little by little what happened in Paige high school, what happened with her and her stepbrother Ty. And we get to see too, how Paige starts living her life. The characters where beautiful described and were far from perfect, they where REAL. They made mistake. Some of the little some of them huge, but at the end most of them tried to get past it and keep living their life. Some of them didn't and "checked out". I felt most of the story real, and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to read it. This is a book I totally recommend.
See my original Review on my blog: Readiculously Peachy My Review: I received a copy through the YA Bound Book Tour to read and review in return. Paint My Body Red is unlike any book I have ever read. This book has so much emotion, symbolism and character, I could not keep my thoughts away from it, even when I was forced to do something else than reading and soaking myself into the story. Ms. Kling is such a talented writer! She possesses the powerful talent to keep the reader consistently immersed into the story on a whole different level, making the reader connect with each and every character, as if they we're your own best friend, lover, or dearest family member. The story starts off somber, where we meet our main character, Paige, to be at her most vulnerable state. We know something terrible happened to her but Ms. Kling is reluctant to portray this straight away to the reader. This kept me hooked throughout the entire book. What happened to Paige? Why is she in such a horrible emotional place, where her mother feels the desperate need to fly her off to Wyoming, to her father's ranch. We quickly find out that Paige will not only be leaving her sunny home in California, leaving behind the grime and somberness of her past, to save her self, but also for reasons which the reader could have never expected. Once Paige arrives at her fathers ranch, she meets the perfect, charming and handsome cowboy named Jake. I absolutely LOVED his character. His old fashion charms and chivalry was not overdone and totally worked alongside with Paige's city-slickin' mentality. Their connection seemed so genuine and very well paced. The longer Paige stayed on the ranch, more memories of her past started to appear of when she grew up on the ranch and why she left in the first place. Ms. Kling writes the story in Paige's perspective, shifting the chapters from Now (the present) to Then, (the past), slowly feeding the reader bits and pieces of the puzzle, forming Paige's tragedy and reasoning on why she ended up the way she did. This way of story-telling worked so well and it was that which kept me flying through the pages, eager to know what would happen next. We quickly find out then in the Then, hence the past, that Paige went through traumatic events where her fellow classmates dropped like flies, committing suicides for reasons which initially seems unclear to everyone. Paige resorts to bad actions, involving her stepbrother Ty, in order to feel emotions, in order to feel alive. I quickly had the feeling (and no doubt, Ms. Kling had a very clever way in portraying this through the ambiance of the story) that these actions were going to lead to devastating consequences. I cannot stress enough on how much I loved this book. I did not want it to end. I absolutely loved Ms. Kling's way of writing and I will definitely keep my eyes peeled for any other books she plans on publishing. I definitely recommend this book to any YA reader who is looking further than just a paranormal fictional YA story; who is ready to indulge themselves in a roller coaster of emotions and suspense, not knowing where the ride will eventually end. Bravo Ms. Kling, bravo!
**Thank you so much to Entangled Teen for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review!** I went into Paint My Body Red only knowing that it had something to do with suicide. Other than that, I knew absolutely nothing. I think that may be partly why I ended up loving Paint My Body Red so much; it completely blew me away and touched on subjects that I didn't even think it would. The story follows a girl named Paige who lives in California. In her town, teenagers have been mysteriously killing themselves by standing in the way of a train, though nobody knows exactly why. However, it's strange that so many people are committing suicide at the same time in the same way at the same exact place. For that reason, Paige's mother sends Paige away to spend time in Wyoming with her sick father. She's not looking forward to it all--she jut wants to go to Wesleyan and can't wait for summer to be over. In Wyoming, she finds that her father is way sicker than she thought. She also meets a boy named Jake who has been helping her father a lot. Paige was a very interesting character. I felt horrible for her as I learned more of her story, which is told throughout the pages. She's been through a lot and is still very strong considering what she has had to endure. Plus, so many people at her school were committing suicide. It's rather scary. I'm glad that she met Jake. I loved their relationship; the two of them were great. Jake really helped Paige loosen up a bit which was nice to see. I know that she liked it too. I love the way that this story was told, and I feel that it's worth mentioning. Paige loves writing and is actually going to college for creative writing. She keeps a journal in which she's been trying to tell her story of what she's been through. The reader actually gets to read about the past through entries titled "then" which are scattered throughout the "now" story. Sometimes I thought that I liked the "then" parts better, though the more I read, the more I knew that I honestly loved the "now" parts as well. That's why Paint My Body Red is an all-around amazing book that I won't cease recommending.
Paint My Body Red is the story of Paige, a high school senior who is sent to her ill father’s ranch in Wyoming for the summer from her home in California so that she can escape the aftermath of a spate of suicides that rocked her school. One by one, fellow classmates were killing themselves and Paige’s mother fears that she will be next. Firstly, I think the author deserves a big round of applause for tackling such a sensitive subject with tact and grace. Suicide is, naturally, a very emotive subject and I think it took a lot of bravery to write this story. Interestingly, I found that the romance side of the story (and it’s very romantic!) didn’t detract from, or lessen the impact of the tragedies or the mystery that surrounded them. I think the reason for this is the way the story was told; it switched between Paige’s current life on the ranch, and the months leading up to her being sent there. At the beginning of the book, Paige is this emaciated, nervy thing suffering psychologically and physically from the tragedy that hit her school and as the story on the ranch progresses she gets healthier and happier. Conversely, as the story of the suicides and her home life unfold in the flashbacks, everything gets worse and worse. It got to the point where I was looking forward to the Now chapters (on the ranch) and kind of dreading the Then chapters (back in California), looking through the gaps in my fingers and thinking, ‘Oh GOD, what’s going to happen now??’ Everything, her school life and her home life, basically turns to toxic waste. Speaking of toxic, Paige makes some pretty awful decisions, romance-wise. The horrible, toxic, emotionally-barren relationship with her stepbrother (I know!) made my skin crawl, but at no point did I put the book down and think, ‘Nuh-uh. That wouldn’t happen.’ The author did a really good job of showing how grief-and-guilt-stricken Paige was around this time, so while the relationship was really skeevey, it always felt believeable. Again, this acts as a really good counterpoint to the events in Wyoming and Paige’s blossoming friendship with Jake, a cowboy on her dad’s ranch. He was so lovely and kind to Paige and really helped her find her way again. Which reminds me: I have some rapidly-forming plans to go out to Wyoming (a place that until I googled it earlier today, I could not have placed accurately on a map) and find myself a nice cowboy! The ending of the book was wrapped up well. I’m a bit of a sucker for a neatly-tied-up HEA, and this book certainly delivered on this front. All in all, I thought Paint My Body Red was a pretty good read and definitely worth checking out for those long cosy evenings now the nights are starting to draw in. I was sent a copy of Paint My Body Red in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Entangled Teen!
I received an ARC when I signed up and was selected to host the book tour. I made no guarantee of a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are my own. This book was beautifully written. The author wrote this in past and present tense and she did an amazing job with the way she wrote about the subject matter which is teen suicide. A dark read with many emotional moments. The story line moved at a perfect pace and the characters are full of depth.
I thought that this was a very well written story. Although it was dark on some aspects, Paige learns to find herself and matures a lot along the way. I found myself longing to know how things were going to end for Paige and flipping through the pages faster and faster. This story flowed really well and I liked how it was written in Paige's past and the present. It gave you a backstory to be able to relate to and understand how Paige was where she was at in life. Paige is a young lady that has been sent to her father's ranch in Wyoming from California by her mother. There have been several suicides that have taken place by Paige's classmates and her mom is afraid that she is going to be next and end up committing suicide, even though she doesn't demonstrate any signs. What Paige is not ready for is how sick her father really is. No one had told Paige how her father had deteriorated and was not even able to talk or walk. Paige learns to accept this with her father and makes the most out of the time they have left with him. The other thing that Paige was not ready for is how hot her life long friend, Jake is now all grown up. Paige and Jake were good friends growing up and Paige has many good memories with him, but now she can't take her eyes off of him or stop thinking about him once she gets a glimpse of the new Jake. Luckily for Paige, Jake lives and works on the ranch! I really liked how we got to go back and see how the suicides effected Paige in the book and it was not just her recounting the accidents. It was real time when they were happening. It helped to understand things so much better and this was brilliant by the author I thought. I felt that I was right there with Paige experiencing all of it with her. Paige has to remember what all she used to do on the ranch before fitting back in. She has to get back in the saddle and ride again as well. When Jake helps her get a horse ready to ride on morning before they head out on a journey to bring some cattle back, Paige is sent on her own journey to get used to things again. I really think this was a turning point for Paige in getting back to her roots. Everything came right back to play for her and it was like she had never left. Jake was such a likeable character. He did not push himself on Paige and he gave her space to make her own decisions. He was always there for Paige when she needed him and he was protective of her, but never pushy. After an accident that Paige has one night, Jake begins to express his true feelings for Paige and that is when we start to swoon over Jake, in my opinion. Jake encourages Paige to so things that are not comfortable to her and to take chances. He is always there to help her, but he wants her to be happy with what she decides to do as well. Paige is hard headed and Jake knows that about her. There is some steamy romance mixed into this story along with all the hardships that Paige has had to go through. Will Paige and Jake get their HEA or will Paige run back to California and forget all about her time at the ranch? This story caught me by surprise in that I could not put it down! I wanted to find out how things ended so I kept reading and reading until I was finished and upset that there was no more. You will not be disappointed in this one! Thanks Heidi R. King for a great read and I can not wait for more from you in the near future!