When I heard Julie Murphy was coming to a local bookstore, I immediately started to read Dumplin’ and followed up by both buying and reading Ramona Blue. I absolutely loved Dumplin’. I thought it was adorable and heartfelt, telling us to embrace who we are and to live unapologetically. I think the same can be said for Ramona Blue.
I cannot speak for the LGBTQIA+ rep in this book so I linked some reviews at the bottom of mine, along with some other gushing reviews about the book. Enjoy!
Title: Ramona Blue
Author: Julie Murphy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: May 9, 2017
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Length: 432 pages (U.S. hardcover)
Synopsis (from Goodreads): “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.”
You know, I’m almost shocked at how many good books I’ve read this year that I’ve rated 4+ stars. This doesn’t happen often, I swear! But I’m reading slower than I usually do so I think it allows me more time to savor the content, all the while giving more thought to the overall plot as well. That’s always the good thing.
I absolutely love the main character, Ramona. She and her family are survivors of Hurricane Katrina, all who live in a 700 square foot FEMA trailer which they are very much growing out of, especially since her sister Hattie announced she was pregnant. She works two jobs in order to keep the family going when money is sparse from her dad’s job. She’s also a swimmer and has loved the water since she was young. When a summer love leaves Ramona longing for me, we meet Freddie, a friend from her childhood whose family introduced Ramona to the water.
Sometimes it was so hard to imagine Ramona is only seventeen. She simply has so much going on in her life and a lot on her shoulders. It’s more than any girl her age should have in that time of life. But the great thing about Ramona is she doesn’t complain. She unabashedly loves her family and will do anything for them, but that also proves to be a character flaw for her. It holds her back from doing a lot of things she wants to do which mainly consists of leaving the town and moving on with her life. I can’t even imagine having people depend on me in that way or feeling as if people depended on me.
Ramona is relatable in so many ways. Summer crushes are hard. It was hard for Ramona because she adored Grace, although things did eventually get complicated between them. Developing feelings for Freddie was incredibly unexpected for Ramona. She repeatedly says she likes girls and has always known she was a lesbian. Cool, but the cooler thing is that things change and that’s okay. Ramona never says she stops liking girls or wants to stop being a lesbian. In fact, I think she’s a bit confused by the romantic feelings she has for Freddie, but she likes him and that’s okay.
I don’t follow too in-depth with topics, but I know there’s been talk about how gender is fluid. It changes and that’s okay. You’re not unimportant, not valuable, or less loved because of who you are (or aren’t) attracted to. Ramona Blue definitely explores that. (You can take this with a grain of salt as I’m a cis hetero female.)
I can imagine this book as one I will return to and one I will recommend to those who are looking for bi rep. The following are some reviews I found which spoke similarly to my own:
- Mary wrote a fantastic, in-depth review for this book. Check it out here!
- I also found Dahlia’s review on Goodreads to be enlightening and encouraging.
- Ava also wrote a precise but wonderful review of this book as well over on Goodreads.
[UPDATE: 6/26/17] — I recently came across Chelsea’s review while scrolling through Twitter, and asked if I could link to it to this one. Chelsea speaks how the the book hurt her as a bisexual reviewer. I think it’s important, especially since I cannot speak for the bi rep myself, to link both positive and negative reviews. I hope this enlightens you, and shows how individual readers perceive the same book.