I'm getting some favorable reviews on both All that you can leave behind and Painting by numbers. J.M. Snyder over at Rainbow Reviews did a great job reviewing Painting by numbers, and I was happy to see that he fully understood the message of the book:
"The author strips away any artifice when it comes to the depiction of this character while at the same time ensuring that the portrayal of Seth and his violence is not gratuitous, sensational, nor is it romanticized. No doubt Seth’s inability to cope with the victimization he endures at school is further exacerbated by his mental illness and the author does not attempt to hide or make excuses for Seth’s violence, or his sexist and racist tendencies. But at the same time, the writing deftly communicates to the reader with understanding and compassion the sheer anguish of Seth's existence and the reasons for his vehement self-loathing, his anger and his feelings of utter helplessness and hopelessness. The author achieves a fragile balance in the writing of this character. Even with what Seth has done, it is difficult to dislike him. The emotion that does surface while reading this novel is one of deep sorrow at the tragedy of Seth's life.
In this sense, the overarching message of this story is not a moral debate of whether Seth is a victim, or a monster, or both. Rather, the story questions why no one stepped in to help Seth in school, and how and why a boy in Seth’s predicament can so easily slip through the cracks and go unnoticed in virtual plain sight by family, teachers and society until it’s too late"
You can read the full review here : Painting by numbers: Review.