Wednesday, October 13, 2010

[Review] A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler

Title: A Blue So Dark
Author: Holly Schindler
Publication: May 2010
Publisher: Flux
Pages: 288
My Rating:

Blurb (Goodreads):  
Terrified that her mother, a schizophrenic and an artist, is a mirror that reflects her own future, sixteen-year-old Aura struggles with her overwhelming desires to both chase artistic pursuits and keep madness at bay.

As her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet keeps drawing Aura toward the depths of her own imagination—the shadows of make-believe that she finds frighteningly similar to her mother’s hallucinations.

Convinced that creative equals crazy, Aura shuns her art, and her life unravels in the process.

My thoughts: 

Painfully slow. Really disliked it. Until...

Probably from page 100 onwards, I started to get a vibe that perhaps A Blue So Dark wasn't so bad after all. I would have given up on it, if I hadn't felt obligated to finish, and write a review on it; but I'm glad I stuck to it and got to the end, because if I hadn't, I would have missed out on something truly special.

One aspect I really liked was the characters. Aura is vulnerable, but puts on a brave front and she had a good voice all through to the end. Nell, an old woman working in an art shop, is wise and kind and strong and all-knowing. I loved her. Jeremy was incredibly, well, cute. For a skater boy. Hah. But it's really sweet to see their relationship develop, and I loved their little scenes together. If I talk about Aura's mum, there's no way I can NOT spoil anything, so I'll leave it to you to read it.

Having not known much about Schizophrenia in the past, this book was a good indication of what Schizophrenia does to people: the affected and those involved. I liked the little notes below each chapter - in italics, there's a sarcastic kind of note from Aura about Schizophrenia. I thought they were pretty cool.

The storyline was slow-moving a lot of the time, but for most of the last 100 pages, that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. It allowed time for reflection on Aura's mother's situation, which is definitely the book's main focus. Also, I'm glad that Schindler allowed time to just describe the scenes, explain/reassess the situation, talk about characters, etc.

Also, I liked the framing of the novel. The mermaids mentioned at the beginning come back, as do the paintings and the art:
"Now, I just carve her, over and over. Can't quit. Think it's because I can never get her quite right. Never can show how much she sparkled."

He sighed, shaking his head as he tossed the whittled piece of drift into an old galvanized tub on the floor in front of the counter. I folllowed after it, finding the whole tub full of mermaids--some painted, some dotted with glitter, some stained, some (possibly half-finished pieces) left so natural they seemed to have actually washed onto the beach with faces and long flowing hair and scales. (pp. 5-6)

Final thoughts:

If you can wittle through the painful beginning, and love illness YA novels, you'll probably love this one. While I probably won't be reading this one cover-to-cover again, any time soon, I'm definitely going to go pick up my own personal copy to read over my favourite scenes.

At the back, there is an interview of Holly Schindler, by Allie at Little Willow! Which is cool, because I love her blog. :) It's a really good interview, and I enjoyed reading that, too!

Live in Australia?
Fishpond | Readings | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson | Borders | The Nile

Live elsewhere?
Amazon | The Book Depository

I am in no way affiliated with the above sites, nor with Schindler or publisher. I do not receive any money for reviewing or linking.

Learn more about A Blue so Dark and read more reviews at Goodreads!

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