Release date: May 9th 2017
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.
So far Julie Murphy has been pretty hit or miss with me. I wasn’t a fan of Side Effects May Vary but I loved Dumplin’. Ramona Blue had the potential to be on either side and, unfortunately, the more I read, the more I found myself thinking it belonged with Side Effects May Vary in terms of enjoyment. The pacing was slow, it felt like it was really dragging in the middle, and so many characters had very little development.
I think this will be one of those books that ends up dividing readers. Ramona was a girl who had always identified as a lesbian who started to have confusing feelings for a childhood friend who’d come back to town – and that friend was male. Her journey of exploring what those feelings meant and what it meant for it is not something I feel like I have a right to comment on, even with it being a fictional character. I did enjoy her relationship with her sister and her two friends Ruth and Saul, and the dynamic between Ramona and Freddie’s grandmother was something I wish we’d gotten a lot more of.
The supporting characters were where this book lost me the most. None of them were very developed. There were a lot of them but they could have been condensed into two more well-rounded characters. They were fun and I liked them but they were mostly just there and had very little to do with the plot except for when Ramona needed a sounding board. I do wish we’d gotten more of Adam in some fashion, whom I got very attached to even with his limited page time.
I did expect swimming to play more of a role in the book, based on the synopsis. It was present and it was something Ramona loved but for the most part it was in the background compared to her arc and her family. The swimming and the training was another thing I wish we’d gotten to see more of during the book. Overall, I think the book tried to focus a little on too much instead of choosing a few things to focus a lot on.
*I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review*