Young Adult Literature

10 Quotes From BLOOD WATER PAINT That Feel Like a Gut Punch

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Sarah Nicolas

Staff Writer

Sarah Nicolas is a recovering mechanical engineer, library event planner, and author who lives in Orlando with a 60-lb mutt who thinks he’s a chihuahua. Sarah writes YA novels as Sarah Nicolas and romance under the name Aria Kane. When not writing, they can be found playing volleyball or drinking wine. Find them on Twitter @sarah_nicolas.

Blood Water Paint is a feminist AF Young Adult novel in (mostly) verse by Joy McCullough about Artemisia Gentileschi. “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.” (Goodreads)

This book totally blew me away and stuck to my thoughts for weeks after listening to the audiobook. Soon after, I picked up a print copy and reread the entire thing in one day. I never reread. As I did that, I started taking pictures of my favorite passages with my phone so I could keep them close to me. The next day, I shared a couple with friends, who made those mournful sounds in recognition of truth that women know so well.

Now, I’m sharing them with you.


“Piazzas, churches

named for a teenager
who gave life to Christ.
Sculptures, paintings, frescoes
devoted to her holiness.
But the only thing about her we remember:

she was a virgin.”


“I do not regret the days of make-believe,
but for every time I played at bride
I should have played at goddess
warrior queen.”


“‘Those two lechers will be stoned because of what you did! You have to go—’
‘They’ll be stoned because of what they did.’
(This is so important, love. They’ll be stoned because of what they did.)”


“When a woman risks
her place, her very life to speak
a truth the world despises?
Believe her. Always.”


“These women who dare
to judge
your heart
by your body
will never have
an ounce of your worth.”


“I wish men
would decide
if women are heavenly
angels on high,
or earthbound sculptures
for their gardens.

But either way we’re beauty
for consumption.”


“(Why, though, does it take
a mother, daughter, sister
for men to take
a woman at her word?)”


“‘Be careful.’
But she stayed behind a wall
and still they found her.
I’m done being careful.”


“I have a mind
a will
a vote.”


“I’m a little girl when they want to belittle me, a woman when they want me to bear a child.”


This book had a profound impact on me and I’ve been recommending it to every reader I know. I hope you’ll check it out. Content warning for off-page rape and on-page depression/PTSD.