Here’s a teen novel with a unique premise: High-school senior Donna decides she wants to become a mortician.
Donna has experience with death. Her beloved father died of cancer when she was 14, and she’s had some trouble relating to others since that event. When a classmate dies in an accident, Donna attends the viewing in the same funeral home that her family had used for her father, and she becomes fascinated by the procedures there. How do they get the makeup so right? She finds that the corpses do not frighten her. The mortuary feels like home. Against her mother’s strongly expressed wishes, she decides to go to mortician's school instead of the Catholic college that has already accepted her. As she rebels against her mother, she meets a boy who seems interested in her and starts a relationship based mostly on sexual attraction, leaving her secret crush on another boy unfulfilled. Meanwhile she moves in to the “student’s room” at the mortuary, confidently awaiting her embalming class. Although some wry comedy seeps into the narrative, Donna’s focus, and the book’s, remains on respecting the dead people and easing the grief of their families. As Donna learns how to care for dead people she also begins to care for living ones.A book that looks at death and reveals much about life. (Fiction. 12 & up)