In a book that did so much right, where can you start?
The Earth Painter by Melissa Turner Lee is a story about a girl named Holly Scruggs who is forced to leave her home in Charleston, SC for the small town of Chesnee after her father is laid off from her job. She suffers all of your normal teenaged problems: overbearing mom who wants her daughter to be perfect in every way, senior year of high school in a brand new city, and the worst (in her eyes, so not mine but I will get into that later) Drama Class. On her first day at Chesnee High, Holly’s main goal is to remain invisible. When she walks into her drama class she is no longer the invisible one, the boy sitting on stage is. No one seems to notice him but her, until she points him out. How does he do this and why does he look at her like that? That is not the last time she sees Theo. He keeps popping up and she always sees him. When she is given a monologue to perform for her drama class, she takes a drink from the fountain by the auditorium and suddenly she knows her purpose and how to achieve her goals. When the water turns red, her friend Wayne sends a sample to Clemson University to have it tested and that is when the story gets interesting. Theo explains why no one else seems to notice him and why he thinks the water is different. Holly is then thrown into a battle between the Painters; who painted the Earth into existence, and Fritz a rouge painter who believes he should rule over humans. Will Holly and Theo be able to save the Mai Dae and the high school or will Fritz and his whispering ruin it for all future students of Chesnee High.
Honestly, it is hard for me to find a place to begin to rave about this book. First, the author’s knowledge, use and understanding of the play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds came as a thrilling revelation for me. It was an absolutely perfect choice for the story and one of my favorite monologues of all times (BA in Theatre, right here)! Second, her ability to bring words into pictures puts her in a place all her own. She was not only able to turn words into a picture but a picture in words into something truly tangible. Also, I love her new look at science and the world in a way you do not usually hear about it. Her ability to turn them into people you could sit around a card table with really gives a new outlook on the world and all of its never ending possibilities.
This has been a hard week for me and I can honestly say reading The Earth Painter this week painted me a world to escape from it all with jewel colored dinosaurs and for that I will always be grateful.