"Haunting ... teems with raw emotion, and McCullough deftly captures the experience of learning to behave in a male-driven society and then breaking outside of it."—The New Yorker
"I will be haunted and empowered by Artemisia Gentileschi's story for the rest of my life."—Amanda Lovelace, bestselling author of the princess saves herself in this one
A William C. Morris Debut Award Finalist
2018 National Book Award Longlist
Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice: a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father's paint.
She chose paint.
By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome's most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the cost.
He will not consume
my every thought.
I am a painter.
I will paint.
Joy McCullough's bold novel in verse is a portrait of an artist as a young woman, filled with the soaring highs of creative inspiration and the devastating setbacks of a system built to break her. McCullough weaves Artemisia's heartbreaking story with the stories of the ancient heroines, Susanna and Judith, who become not only the subjects of two of Artemisia's most famous paintings but sources of strength as she battles to paint a woman's timeless truth in the face of unspeakable and all-too-familiar violence.
I will show you
what a woman can do.
★"A captivating and impressive."—Booklist, starred review
★"Belongs on every YA shelf."—SLJ, starred review
★"Haunting."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
★"Luminous."—Shelf Awareness, starred review
McCullough's debut, told primarily in verse, introduces 17-year-old Artemisia Gentileschi, who was in real life a talented young painter during the Italian Baroque period. Grudgingly trained by her father and forced to sign his name to her clearly superior work, Artemisia chafes against the confines of being a woman in a male-dominated world. When an established artist takes an interest in her, Artemisia reaches for the opportunity to improve her craft, but she soon learns that his interest is less than noble and her protestations are no protection. Interspersed throughout Artemisia's story are those of ancient heroines Susanna and Judith, two women who stand against men who covet their bodies and seek to destroy. As Artemisia tries to tell the truths of these women on canvas ("I know/ what it is to be watched,/ to be leered at what it is to be a thing"), she grows into her own power and finds the strength to stand against her own rapist. A haunting, stirring depiction of an unforgettable woman, Artemisia's story will resonate deeply with readers today and beyond. Ages 14 up.