Review

Review: Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy//The One Where I Actually Like a Book For Once???

ramona blue

In a Nutshell…

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. 

My Thoughts…

Books like Ramona Blue are the reason I continue reading new releases from authors I’ve previously disliked. Because for every five times my initial reaction was right , I find one gem that makes me stand corrected. And this story truly is excellent. It’s as if Julie Murphy took every single complaint I had about Dumplin’ (dull characters, lame love triangle, unsympathetic protagonist ) and went out of her way to do a complete 180 shift. Other than Murphy’s trademark writing style, which is rich in dialogue and slow in actual events, nothing about the two are comparable. So if you took this one off your TBR due to previously disliking Dumplin’, I ten out of ten would recommend giving this one another shot. And what this really comes down to is Ramona herself. As I mentioned in my Mid Year Freak Out post, she’s probably one of the most relatable, sympathetic, and down to earth protagonist I’ve ever read. Ramona’s journey to discovering the fluidity of life, as well as reaching for her full potential, was a breath of fresh air, and will likely resonate with readers of all ages. It also addresses what I think many people were afraid of reading the synopsis alone- that Murphy would try to depict a character “cured” of being a lesbian when she met the right guy. To the contrary…

 

…this whole book is very LGBTQ+ positive. Though I should say I’m a straight reviewer, there was never a moment I was offended by Murphy’s portrayal of Ramona’s sexuality. In fact, I think a story with such a message (that it’s OK not to fit into any one set label) is entirely necessary in this day of fiction. While Ramona is discovering the part of herself that may be bisexual, or may not be contained in any one box, another important theme is coming into fruition. And that is Ramona deciding what her future holds. Will she continue to put everyone’s needs before her own? Will she take a chance on herself to be something different than expected of her? They’re classic growing pains, but Murphy still managed to add a little something extra. I also commend her for showing the obstacles in place for students below the poverty line in achieving higher education. To often I feel like contemporaries ignore the very real, financial side of college and just rush to the emotional. Granted, Ramona’s family is excellently fleshed out, which really made me connect with Ramona as she must decide to leave them without one of their income sources.

 

I’m so glad she did though. Ramona is a saint, and deserves every good thing that comes to her. I was rooting for her from the very first page, and overcame every obstacle alongside her. She has a voice YA needs: someone who doesn’t have a perfect life, but will fight and fight and fight for those she cares about. And one of those people happens to be Freddie, who is such a sweet love interest. I pulled for the two to get together right from the get go, as their chemistry is almost too much to bear. He compliments the story without dominating it, and is around just the right amount for a love interest. As far as the long line of great characters goes, he’s joined by his grandmother Agnes, and Ramona’s sister Hattie. Both are perfection here, and do so much for the story. I could talk about these people all day.

 

Really my only complaints are aspects I would have liked to see more of. I felt the Hurricane Katrina storyline could have been developed more, as well as Ramona’s future as a swimmer. Other than that I could not have more positive things to say. Definitely, definitely recommend!

Keep Calm and Read On    

2 thoughts on “Review: Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy//The One Where I Actually Like a Book For Once???

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