STARRED REVIEW
May 2017

A teenage girl stops treading water

By Julie Murphy
Review by

Blue-haired high school senior Ramona has always known what her future will hold: She’ll stay in her small Mississippi town, work multiple jobs, date tourist girls and live with her father and older sister, Hattie, in the cramped trailer that’s been home ever since Hurricane Katrina upended their lives. When Hattie accidentally gets pregnant, Ramona has even more reason to envision a life spent putting others’ needs before her own. But then her childhood friend Freddie moves back to town.

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Blue-haired high school senior Ramona has always known what her future will hold: She’ll stay in her small Mississippi town, work multiple jobs, date tourist girls and live with her father and older sister, Hattie, in the cramped trailer that’s been home ever since Hurricane Katrina upended their lives. When Hattie accidentally gets pregnant, Ramona has even more reason to envision a life spent putting others’ needs before her own. But then her childhood friend Freddie moves back to town.

Freddie fits in seamlessly with Ramona’s friends—including gay siblings Saul and Ruthie—and when Ramona swims laps with Freddie at the YMCA, she feels like she’s reclaiming a part of herself that she’s long since pushed aside. Soon she and Freddie find their respective romantic entanglements coming to awkward ends, and she begins to feel more than friendship for Freddie. As she navigates relationships with Freddie’s kind grandmother, her own estranged mother and Hattie’s live-in boyfriend, Ramona starts to question long-held certainties. What does it mean to like girls but also be attracted to your male best friend? What balance can she find between realistic possibilities and Cinderella dreams?

Julie Murphy, acclaimed author of Dumplin’, once again takes on the voice of a marginalized teen, tackling issues of economic, racial and sexual diversity with love, humor and hope.

 

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read a Q&A with Julie Murphy about Ramona Blue.

This article was originally published in the May 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Ramona Blue

Ramona Blue

By Julie Murphy
Balzer + Bray
ISBN 9780062418357

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