Young Adult Book Review: Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
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The following review of Ramona Blue (Balzer & Bray, May 9, 2017) is from Food, Fitness & Fiction contributing editor Josh Flores (pictured below).
In Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy, another strong and human female character—one who defines herself by the trailer she lives in and the color of her hair—is presented to young adult readers. While the book is very different from Murphy’s previous release, Dumplin’, Ramona Blue provides a realistic glimpse of small town life and the risks involved with being your true self. Told with humor and heart—and heartbreak—Ramona Blue provides a unique take on love and relationships.
Here’s a description from Amazon:
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.
Ramona Blue begins when the girl Ramona loves moves away, leaving her with her dismal life of living in a trailer and dealing with her sister being pregnant. And if that isn’t bad enough, any hope she had of escaping her small town disappears with the unforeseen pregnancy and her sister’s boyfriend moving into their already cramped trailer. With her life feeling unmanageable and her deep longing for the girl who broke her heart, Ramona is beside herself. But when her friend Freddie moves back to Eulogy, Mississippi, everything Ramona once knew about herself seems to quickly fall apart. She soon discovers that life is completely unpredictable and that love can appear even in the loneliest of times. With the same bold narrative and characters that are impossible to not love, Julie Murphy brings readers another compelling tale about teenagers navigating the drama that often occurs within families and the wonder of teenage romance.
Ramona Blue is an amazing novel. From its beautiful cover to the characters that come to life through Murphy’s excellent writing, the book has become one of my favorites. The dialogue felt completely realistic and the storyline avoided the typical young adult clichés that can at times feel repetitive. And while many young adult novels speak to the coming age of teenagers, Ramona Blue does so in such a unique way that doesn’t feel forced and flows perfectly. The only thing that disappointed me about the book was that it ended. I could have read an entire second book about these wonderful characters. Murphy has brought something so fresh and special to the genre and I’m sure other readers will agree.
From trying to figure out her romantic life to dealing with the heartbreak of saying goodbye, Ramona has a lot to deal with. Despite tragedy, however, she discovers some beauty in a boy that she might actually fall for. With a story full of heart, wit and humor, Ramona Blue is a perfect poolside or beach read that will surely appeal to many.
For more on Julie Murphy and her work, check out her website here.
For other reviews of Ramona Blue, click on the following links:
Joshua Flores is currently a freshmen at Biola University studying English (with an emphasis on creative writing). When he is not doing homework or reading on the beach, he’s imagining hilarious and horrifying new situations for the novel he is working on, attending book signings (especially for his favorite young adult authors), or discovering new and exciting places in LA. He also writes for Germ Magazine. Follow him on instagram (@booklover41899) or on Facebook.
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