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.
Song For This Book: All Time Low by Jon Bellion
Why? All time low seems to be about where Ramona is for a lot of this book as she tries to figure out who she is and her place in the world.
I received a copy of this book through a giveaway from HarperCollins Canada Frenzy.
Prior to receiving this book, the only things I had heard about it were people bashing it for its synopsis. That’s what you’ll find if you go over to Goodreads and read what’s posted on there. And with the original synopsis, I can totally see why, but I’m a big believer in 1) not following crowds and 2) not judging a book without giving it a chance, so I read it anyway.
And all in all, it wasn’t bad. There were some really great things happening in this book, ironically the stuff that the folks on Goodreads were complaining about, and there were some things I was rather disappointed by. But all in all, it’s a good story and it’s one of those books that I know is going to do well if people can get past their preconceptions.
The Good Points of Ramona Blue:
I loved the way the author handled sexuality and labels and all that sort of thing in this book. Murphy does a great job of showing how sexuality isn’t as simple as gay or straight or bisexual, and how various people are going to react to the lack of being able to put a clear label on it. As well, having characters that were used to people with varying sexualities, as well as those who were brand new to the world of varying sexuality, was a brilliant move, and really enhanced the discussion of the subject in the book.
I loved the family dynamics in this book. Families are frequently neglected in YA, and so even if Ramona’s family is a bit on the dysfunctional side, it’s great to see those relationships and how they all come together.
The characters in this book are great. They’re well developed and thought out, have their positives and negatives, and their own unique struggles. Having such a unique cast definitely helped make this book great.
I do appreciate the way that this book doesn’t sugar coat Ramona’s life. She’s not well off, and fairly honest to what life is like when you’re poor and life keeps coming down on you. It’s also honest to how teenagers are, talking about sex and experimenting and trying to figure out what you’re going to do with your life.
The Downsides of Ramona Blue:
Despite them being well developed, I could not bring myself to care about any of the characters in this book. If everyone got abducted by aliens in the middle or got locked into the Hunger Games or anything like that, I honestly would not have cared. Or I might have actually cared more. I just had no desire to know them or care about them in the slightest, and I couldn’t connect with any of them.
I felt like there wasn’t a whole lot of plot to this book. Things happen, but it seems more like a series of events rather than a plot. Most of the focus in this book is on family relationships and Ramona figuring out her sexuality, which is fine, but I would have liked more plot and less events.
I also found this book super predictable. From early on, I had a good feeling about how the book was going to end, and what might happen in between, and I was pretty darn close. And maybe I’ve just read a lot of books and that’s why, but there was nothing new or exciting about this story plot-wise. The focus is really put on the exploration of Ramona’s sexuality, rather than story.
All in all, this book is good. I don’t know if it’s one I would pick up again because of my own personal tastes, but I appreciate how Murphy explored sexuality and family, and how honest to stays to real life for teens these days. If you like swimming, books that honestly discuss sexuality, great family dynamics, or well developed characters, you’ll probably like this book. Don’t pay attention to people who are ranting about it online without having read it – go read it and make your own decisions.
Find Ramona Blue on Book Depository.