Painting Caitlyn

 
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Age Range
14+
ISBN
1897073402
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It's happening so fast
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
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0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
It's scary how quickly kids are growing up these days and how little parents really know their children. In the same vein as Catherine Hardwicke's chilling film Thirteen, Painting Caitlyn tells the story of a good girl gone bad. Feeling neglected and no longer wanted by her parents, who are about to welcome another baby, fourteen-year-old Caitlyn gets involved with an older guy. She falls hard for Tyler and at first he gives her what she needs: "He was so gentle and understanding that he made me feel safe and cared for, like no matter what happened at home, I had someone who thought I was special." But her new boyfriend turns out to be controlling and sometimes violent and soon starts to take over every aspect of her life. Tired of spending all her time and energy "trying to keep things good" between them, scared witless of the things he's talked her into doing that she wasn't ready to do, Caitlyn finally realizes that she doesn't like who she's become and gets her life back on track.

This novel's strength is in its perfectly-paced first-person narration. The main character's thoughts are transmitted in the moment, with few interruptions from the perspective of the older, wiser Caitlyn who has already lived and learned from her experience. Every new revelation comes at exactly the right time and the gradual shift in Caitlyn's attitude is completely convincing. Characters escape the one-dimensional trap: Tyler is a tyrant but can also be sweet and attentive. Caitlyn's art assignments are treated with much insight and her projects and the way she approaches them become a creative and moving metaphor for her life and the way she tackles her problems. High marks for handling the difficult topic of abusive relationships without patronizing the reader. A somewhat unsettling but ultimately very fulfilling read worth five gold stars.
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