By Hannah Bucchin
Some days things just end up falling into place, and you wonder if the universe is messing with you, because coincidences like this just don’t happen. For example, when you’re on a truffle tour in the south of France with your family, and on that same tour group of a dozen people, there’s another YA author, who’s part of the same groups as you are online. The fact that she’s awesome just happens to be bonus (thanks universe!) so the second I got home I ordered her book on Prime, and couldn’t wait to read it. Another reason to thank the universe? The book, author Hannah Buccin’s Debut novel, Paintbrush, is charming and adorable, and everything I needed right now. And I think you might need it too.
Mitchell Morrison and Josie Sedgwick have spent their whole lives at the Indian Paintbrush Community Village, a commune full of colorful characters tucked in the mountains of North Carolina, and they aren’t particularly close–at least, not anymore. Josie wishes she could spend all of her time at Paintbrush planting tomatoes, hiking the trails, or throwing giant communal birthday parties, while Mitchell can’t wait to escape the bizarre spiritual sharing and noisy community dinners. Luckily for both of them, high school graduation is just around the corner.
But when Mitchell’s mother makes a scandalous announcement that rocks the close-knit Paintbrush community, and Josie’s younger sister starts to make some dangerously bad decisions, the two find themselves leaning on each other for support – and looking at each other in a whole new light. Their childhood friendship blossoms into something more as they deal with their insane families, but as graduation approaches, so does life in the real world, forcing Josie and Mitchell to figure out what, exactly, their relationship is – and if it can survive their very different plans for the future.
Welcome to the Indian Paintbrush Community Village for Sustainable Living: a beautiful commune filled with colorful characters. Among them, two teens on the cusp of adulthood. One, Josie, is nature loving, loves the Paintbrush community, dresses in long skirts and wears a braid. The other, Mitchell, could be the polar opposite: he just wants to fit into his high school, he’s on the swim team, popular, and doesn’t want anything to do with these ‘hippies’.
Life on the commune is peaceful, until one day when Mitchell’s mother does something earth shattering and changes his world forever.
The book deals with the questions that every teen struggles with as they reach adulthood: what is your place in the world? How do you choose your path for your future? Is it better to blend in, or stay true to who you are? How do you forgive the unforgivable – and so on. And it’s handled oh-so beautifully.
While the plot focuses on the growing and evolving relationships between Mitchell and Josie – who have more in common than they expect – it’s also using their two points of views to examine these questions. It’s a story of first love, and coming of age. Setting it on a commune frames this exploration in just a warm and loving embrace that you constantly feel hugged while reading the book. The supporting characters are just that: so supportive. In the best possible way.
If you’re looking for a YA contemporary that will leave you with a smile and a warm feeling in your heart. then you’re going to love Paintbrush. It’s a sweet and beautiful book that deserves a place on your bookshelf.