Thursday, February 3, 2011
My take on: Blue
Sci-fi/fantasy novels aren't usually my cup of tea. I used to think the plot would get bogged down with mythology and a whole bunch of things I don't understand. I'm glad to be wrong after reading Blue by Lou Aronica, a fantasy YA novel. If not for the e-mail pitch, it probably wasn't something I would have picked up on my own. The book is a heartwarming, emotional roller coaster.
Fourteen-year-old Becky shuffles back and forth between her divorced parents, Chris and Polly. Becky has strong emotional ties with her mother, but the relationship with her father is severely strained. Becky is in remission from leukemia, an illness that strained her parents relationship and ultimately led to their divorce. While in the throes of her disease, Becky and her father created a fantasy world, Tamarisk, as a distraction. It's a place with rich colors, specifically Blue, rich with animals and ruled by the beautiful queen Miea. It's a place where Chris and Becky can let their imaginations run wild. A world where Becky isn't sick.
Once Becky is in remission, what do they have left? Was Tamarisk their only connection? Can they coexist in reality? They drift apart and Becky's visits to Chris' apartment are always filled with silence. Fantasy worlds aside, those moments feel very real to me. A strained relationship with your parent is something everyone can relate to. Chris and Becky internalize their feelings rather than saying what is really wrong. It's like having a giant elephant in the room.
"Now, on the fourth anniversary of that terrible day, her father was still acting like everything was okay -- even though it was so obvious that he wasn't okay, that he hadn't really been okay since he left."
Tamarisk is what brings them back together. Becky believes it's real after meeting Miea. How is this even possible? Is it just imagination? Creating a fantasy world as a distraction from cancer sounds great to me, but when the person starts to believe it's real is a stretch of the imagination for me. Becky belief is so strong, she ignores the signs that her cancer is out of remission. She even gets her dad to believe in this place. They travel to Tamarisk together. But they created this world together, so of course they are willing to believe in it. Telling Polly doesn't help as she believes they are both delusional, and that Chris is using the delusion to get back in Becky's good graces.
Aronica weaves a fine tapestry between the two worlds. Becky's world is in turmoil as is Tamarisk. Miea is trying to save Tamarisk from destruction, while Becky is trying to save her own life.
The pace of book is a little slow, but it picks up in the last 120 pages. The fantasy elements are there, but this is more of a story about what it means to be a family and how to create lasting relationships. Polly like a lot of divorced parents has trouble letting go of Becky. Chris has trouble figuring out to repair his relationship with Becky. As a reader, I had trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy. Becky's belief in this world is so strong. The colors, surrounding and textures come through vividly. The ending is sad and happy at the same time. It can be interpreted many ways, so you will have to pick up a copy and decide for yourself.
Rating: Give it a try
Notes: I received a copy of the book from Pump Up Your Book (http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/) in exchange for an honest review. For more information on Lou Aronica, visit http://www.fictionstudio.com/Fiction_Studio_site/Home.html