Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

EconKids Home Older Children and Young Adults: 2011 Putting Makeup on Dead People / by Jen Violi

Putting Makeup on Dead People / by Jen Violi


Title:  Putting Makeup on Dead People
Author: Jen Violi
Publisher:  Hyperion
ISBN:  978-142313481-7
Year:  2011

Concepts: careers, jobs, financial independence

Review: High school senior Donna Parisi had lost her father to cancer four years earlier, and she still had difficulty coming to terms with his death. At school Donna preferred to remain detached and anonymous, and at home she felt afraid to welcome changes that might bring happiness. Her mother and siblings worried about her, and that worry deepened when Donna announced that instead of attending the University of Dayton next year like her older brother and many of her high school classmates, she planned to apply to Chapman College of Mortuary Science for training in mortuary science and the art of funeral services.

Donna felt more at peace at the local funeral parlor than she did anywhere else, and the thought of embalming and applying makeup to a dead person intrigued her and gave her a new sense of purpose. She knew that these feelings were probably related to her inability to get over her father's death, but all the same, Donna felt determined to go through with her plan despite her mother's strong objection. A summer job and even a room to stay at the local funeral parlor helped her to gain financial independence, but ultimately Donna would need to let happiness back into her life in order to truly move forward again.

This carefully crafted novel stands out with its unique premise and strong-willed lead character. Intertwined in the story line are a series of economics ideas related to workforce readiness, careers, and education. Note that several situations with sexual content make the book more appropriate for mature readers. Despite the theme of death, the book makes for an enjoyable read about building relationships with family members and new friends. 

Review by:  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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