Title: RAMONA BLUE
Author: JULIE MURPHY
Publisher: BALZER + BRAY/ HARPERCOLLINS, MAY 9, 2017
Genre: CONTEMPORARY YOUNG ADULT
A gorgeously evocative novel about family, friendship, and how sometimes love can be more fluid than you first think.
From Julie Murphy, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’ and Side Effects May Vary, comes another fearless heroine, Ramona Blue, in a gorgeously evocative novel about family, friendship, and how sometimes love can be more fluid than you first think. Perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Morgan Matson.
Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.
Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.
The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.
Yesterday I saw one of my favorite authors (oh hey, Sierra Simone) recommend Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy, and her post was so poignant that I immediately one-clicked. I started the novel last night and didn’t intend to stay up all night reading, but each time I started to fade Ramona Blue would lure me back in.
.. the idea that I’m someone’s best friend fills my rib cage with summer.
This novel is a beautiful coming-of-age story that is exquisitely written with a main protagonist who is so well developed and three dimensional that I was rooting for her from that very first line until the very last one and you will too. I loved that there was so much diversity in this book across all aspects of life. From race to sexual orientation to socioeconomics to educational opportunities this book had it covered. I related to Ramona on so many levels. From her impoverished childhood to her epic work ethic to coming to terms with her sexual identity when she realizes she may not fit in the one box where she always identified to her fierce loyalty to her loved ones to the delightful cast of characters who make up her life.
… disappears from my life like the most careful burglar, leaving not even the whisper of a fingerprint behind and stealing only parts of me I can feel and not see.
A big part of Ramona’s journey comes with this enlightenment she has about her own sexual identity. I love the care with which the author handled this topic. The author identifies as bisexual and it’s important for the queer community to have bi-voices writing these stories. By now most of us have realized that sexuality is fluid and so is our emotional connection to other humans. I spent the first 28 years of my life identifying as straight and then I met my wife and that whole notion turned upside down. My idea of who I thought I was completely changed when I fell in love with this person who just happened to be a woman. Does this make me bi, lesbian, queer? Maybe I identify as all of the above.
Fate is mine to pen … I choose.
Another thing that struck me with this story was the nuanced portrait of a small Mississippi town still feeling the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. We see these tragedies unfold across our TV screens, but we don’t really know what happens to the people who lost everything. Where do they go from there? Who do they become? How does this shape Ramona’s thoughts about her life and her future?
All in all this was a perfect novel for me. The pacing, the plot, the story, the writing, the characters, the diversity which included gay characters who weren’t silly caricatures. Ramona Blue had it all. I highly recommend this book. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, your heart will break and then burst open with love and hope. Bravo, Ms. Murphy!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julie Murphy is a potty-mouthed Southern belle who was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, but found her home in Fort Worth, Texas. She’s never seen Star Wars, but has yet to meet a made for TV movie she didn’t love. When she’s not writing, Julie can be found cruising Costco for free samples, watching Sister Act 2, stalking drag queens on instagram, obsessing over the logistics of Mars One, and forever searching for the perfect slice of cheese pizza. She lives with her bearded husband, two vicious cats, and one pomeranian that can pass as a bear cub. DUMPLIN’ is her second young adult novel.