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Paint Me a Monster Hardcover – January 1, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Born to a superficial mother and a selfish dad, Rinnie is the proverbial middle child. It doesn't take long before she notices how her mother dotes upon older sister, Liz and younger brother, Evan, but neglects her. Curious and inquisitive, the protagonist is often ignored by her parents, but it's from the sidelines that she is able to surmise early on her family's breakdown. Often left in the care of others-along with her siblings-she is only ever the focus of her mother's interest when Rose is seeking Rinnie's opinion on her makeup. When the girl asks Rose why she is treated differently than her siblings, her mother responds by saying, "I created a monster." As a teen, she tries to rid herself of the "monster" with an eating disorder, while seeking love and acceptance from her housekeeper, nurse, and Gaga, her grandmother. Rinnie escapes reality by living in her dreams and finding deeper meaning through writing and art, especially when tragedy strikes during the novel's climax. Baskin takes readers through a tug of war of emotions, punctuated by short, lyrical chapters that include poems, letters, and lists. Teens will follow the protagonist's tumultuous journey from innocent little girl to heartbroken teen and eventually a brave young adult. By helping others, Rinnie discovers a kindness only she knows how to give.—Keisha Miller, South Orange Public Library, NJ
Top customer reviews
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This book was very unnerving because it was centered around child abuse. When I first picked up the book, that was not what I imagined it would be about. Also, I found the book was confusing because the first hundred or so pages spanned six years (but there was no chronology) so I found it difficult to keep up with the story.
Margo and her older sister Liz are surprised to see another being enter their house- a baby boy named Evan. Evan is a chubby boy and their mother, Rosa, makes it very clear that she loves Evan and Liz the most. Margo is more of a forgotten child and she is somewhat content that way.
Until her mother starts taking out her anger about her impending divorce on Margo. Margo is punched, slapped, and verbally abused by her mother but nobody, not even her grandparents, will believe her. Margo’s sister knows about all of this but turns a blind eye so as to not lose her mother’s favor.
Eventually, Margo starts starving herself and performing poorly in class. Her mother takes Margo to a psychologist where she calls Margo a “monster.” Upon hearing this, Margo explodes with emotion, proving to the psychologist that she is indeed a monster.
Now, Margo has nobody but her brother. However, he drifts away from her as well. To make matters worse, Margo’s father marries a beautiful lady with two daughters and a son, and no longer has time for Margo.
Will Margo be able to live with this broken family?
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In the beginning of the book, the author shows that Rinnie’s family was a great family on the outside, but the mother was never really nice on the inside. Later on in the novel, we find that the perfect life that other people see, starts to unfold. As Rinnie gets older, things in her life start to get worse and worse. Her mother and her father go through a divorce, she begins to get abused both physically and emotionally by her mother; and her father starts to treat her like she never existed. Also Rinnie never seems to be the favorite, her sister Liz is the poster child of the family. Her mother tells her friends that, in relation to Rinnie, she created a monster. The plot of this book seems to relate to the theme a lot. Early on you can see that by the way Rinnie is treated by her family, that sometime later in the story it is going to be explained why she is treated the way she is. This somewhat leads into my favorite part of the novel. When Rinnie was little, her sister was always her favorite and for some reason Rinnie was the hated one. She was verbally abused by her mother. Her mother would call her things like “fat a** and w**re”. Rinie always wanted to stand up to her mother and tell her what was on her mind but was too afraid, until she got older. She finally stands up for herself and tries to patch things up and make them right again. This book is definitely a book I would recommend. I would share it with someone because by the way the author words it, it shows that some people’s lives may seem perfect on the outside but doesn’t tell the story as to what’s actually going on behind the walls. Janie Baskin makes this book worth reading because unlike some books, there is a life lesson behind it. That lesson is to not be afraid to stand up for yourself, someone, or something that you believe in or think is right. Although this book is sad, there is still a great meaning behind the sadness.