Title: Ramona Blue
Author: Julie Murphy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Disclaimer: I received a free copy via Edelweiss for review purposes.
Ramona was just a child when Hurricane Katrina uprooted her life. Ever since, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Being one of the only two lesbians in her small town, standing over six feet tall, and with bright blue hair, Ramona feels like she’s outgrowing the trailer she’s come to call home. But with a flaky mom and an overworked father, and between juggling her two jobs, Ramona feels the weight of responsibility. Especially now that her sister Hattie has fallen pregnant. The return of a childhood friend, Freddie, is a welcome distraction. As Ramona’s love for swimming grows, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift.
I really enjoyed Ramona Blue. It’s a fantastic, well-developed YA contemporary with lots of talking points and issues. There are so many things I enjoyed. Firstly, the sibling relationship between Ramona and Hattie. I loved (and I mean loved) their relationship. I’m a sucker for well-developed sibling relationships, and I loved how Ramona knew Hattie better than anyone and vice versa. Hattie was a bit selfish, and I really enjoyed the exploration of the dependency and responsibility between the two. And on top of this, I thought that the familial relationship was very well done. Whilst I wasn’t a fan of Ramona’s mother, I really loved her father; I particularly enjoyed the loving and supporting figure her father was.
Additionally, I thought that exploration and the genuine look at poverty was very well done. It’s definitely something I would like to see more of in YA fiction, because I do think it’s lacking. And I think that this also ties in with the supporting familial relationship because it’s rare that we get a look at poverty and supporting families, because there is quite often this assumption that poverty means neglectful parents and that’s definitely not always the case. So yeah, that’s definitely something I really enjoyed about Ramona Blue (yes–her mother was flaky, but her father was a stable and reliable parental figure and that’s who she lived with).
I loved the exploration of sexuality and how it’s fluid, and how Ramona was the only one to define her identity:
“I was so scared that by having sex with Freddie, I would lose part of myself-part of my identity. Instead, I’ve embraced another facet of myself. Life isn’t always written in the stars. Fate is mine to pen. I choose guys. I always choose girls. I choose people. But most of all: I choose.”
Whilst I enjoyed the romance, and it was sweet and well-developed, it definitely wasn’t the focal point of the story, and so was probably the aspect I least enjoyed. Nevertheless, it’s still a sweet romance, and Ramona Blue is still a book I would recommend to YA romance fans too.
It’s not quite a 5-star read for me, but it’s pretty close. I would definitely recommend Ramona Blue to fans of realistic fiction and contemporary romance.
Lauren is a british blogger and book reviewer. She is an avid bookworm, writer and procrastinator extraordinaire. A recent history grad, Lauren is currently grappling with adulthood, finding solace in the written word. As an avid reader of YA literature, she’s a lover of sci-fi, contemporary romance, sister stories, and cute f/f books. Some of her favourite books include Code Name Verity by the incredibly talented Elizabeth Wein, and the soul-crushingly cute The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli.