Friday, June 23, 2017

Ramona Blue - Julie Murphy

Title: Ramona Blue
Author: Julie Murphy
Format: Hardcover

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.


Ramona Blue is a young adult novel that takes place in Eulogy, Mississippi and revolves around the life of Ramona, a teenager who dyes her hair blue (all the time) and works several jobs, even during the academic year.  Also, she likes girls (and identifies repeatedly throughout the novel as a lesbian.)  It's important to know that last part because Ramona develops an attraction to a boy that moves to her town, and also because there is a lot of controversy over this novel.

So, a few things I want to be clear on:

1. I liked the premise of the book, but found myself skeptical of the actual book itself.
2. Yes, it is entirely possible that Ramona is bi or pansexual, BUT, BUT, BUT, she stated herself that she is a lesbian (and the fact that she all of a sudden changes her mind because the right guy came along is such a harmful trope, because, well, you know.  Lesbians actually exist, and not in a "I just haven't found the right man yet" kind of way.)
3. It also really bothers me that so many gay and lesbian folks try to erase the bi identity.  I don't want to turn this into a "but it's possible Ramona could have been bi" or "no way she's a lesbian" argument.  I just want to be clear about the fact that, separate from this book, bisexual men and women are out there, and don't deserved to be erased.  (Bi folks get erased from both sides, just so you know.  So many LGT and straight people treat bisexual people like they are just on the way to coming out as gay.  Stop it.)
4. The fact that the author is changing the jacket description does not erase the fact that Ramona states several times throughout the novel that she is a lesbian.
5. HOWEVER, Ramona is only 17. She is young and still learning about herself.  It is entirely possible that she has identified as lesbian because she has never met a boy she was attracted to.  It is possible that she is bisexual and that she is still learning about who she is.

Now, let's just talk for a minute.

The Characters

I generally liked the characters (except for Hattie's boyfriend, Tyler.  He was an asshat.)  I think the author does a good job of tackling a heavy topic. (Well, kind of.  I should probably amend that, because I found out that even though the author identifies as bisexual, she view being gay and bi as a choice, and is therefore extremely homo/biphobic.) 

The Story
Eh.  The story was alright, but I didn't really feel connected to it like I have with other books.  It was okay, and not poorly written, but it didn't compel me to binge read or anything.  Also, I was tired of reading another book where teenagers just sit around drinking. Where the hell are these teens getting access to all this booze?!  (Yes, I know teens in real life drink.  But those kids parents should be doing a better job of preventing that from happening!  These people are still kids.)

Overall, I think I would rate the book 2 stars.