298 pages | Dutton Books For Young Readers | Historical Poetry? | 3/6/2018
Trigger warning: Rape / Sexual Assault
In her debut novel, Joy McCullough gets inside the head of 17-year-old Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi, a real historical figure, as she struggles against the overbearing patriarchal society she was born into. Written mostly in verse from Artemisia’s perspective it blends in prose stories of the biblical figures Susanna and Judith–two figures featured prominently in Artemisia’s work.
I think it is really helpful for readers to have some context about Artemesia before going into this book because I’m not sure how much teens know about art history and the art world during the Baroque period. But also, it’s helpful if you are like me and have taken art history classes but just never heard of Artemisia *side eyes college syllabi*or her infamous rape trial. I felt like I was only getting half of what was going on and it wasn’t until I used some Google-fu that is all clicked.
This book is actually an adaptation of a play also written by McCullough, this book is so cerebral and really focuses on Artemisia’s internal emotions and senses like a play script. If anyone doesn’t understand why women need feminism just go ahead and throw this book at them because holy crap, it was difficult to be a woman back in the day. Needless to say, this is not a happy time book.
In this timely debut, McCollough develops a sharp feminist perspective to the life of Artemesia, a talented young woman who shows the patriarchy exactly what a woman can do.
Between this book, Jason Reynold’s Long Way Down sweeping award shows and Kwame Alexander’s new verse only imprintI wonder if verse novels are about to become the next trend in YA ? If anything, I like that they can be read in one sitting.