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.
I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher. No compensation in any form was received for the review of this book.
Months before its publication, Ramona Blue gathered attention due to the original synopsis. I shared my thoughts about it on Goodreads. I wasn’t one of the people who rated it 5-star just to counter the low ratings given by some, what I did was to share an experience years ago that made me realize that sexuality is indeed fluid.
Back in grade school, I had this huge crush on a girl from my class so I really thought that I was lesbian. Add this to the fact that I kept on hanging out with the guys when we entered high school because I love watching basketball. During my whole high school life, I kept on being attracted with girls, but there was one boy who stood out from the rest. The said boy made me question my identity a little bit. And I was like, “Why do I have a crush on this boy, yet I still have crushes on girls?” Bisexuality wasn’t an open term during that time, at least for me. So in college, I decided to take up a course about gender and sexuality, and I learned a lot from the course. I felt okay, validated, and most of all, I felt ME, I started to embrace myself. I learned that it is okay to be attracted to people regardless of their gender. I learned that there are a lot more sexual orientation in the spectrum, and despite that it’s okay to not label yourself.
I felt like Ramona, when she was questioning herself. Sexuality is not a one time thing. It can change, as you discover yourself further. I’ve seen and read some stories featuring characters with heteroromantic relationships before they realized that they’re gay/lesbian/bi etc, and I think it’s time for narratives like Ramona Blue to be read. See, Ramona thought that all her life she’s lesbian, until she met her childhood friend, Freddie, again and realized that it’s possible. It’s possible because that’s exactly what happened to me.
“Life isn’t written in the stars. Fate is ours to pen. I choose guys. I choose girls. I choose people. But most of all: I choose.”
Moving on to the story, I really enjoyed the whole book. The friendships, complex family relationships, and the diversity. I adored Ramona, she’s one of the most relatable characters for me and I definitely saw myself in her shoes. I love her relationship with her sister, Hattie. More than anything, the book not only was about Ramona coming in terms with herself, but also her coming in terms of her family. There really was a strong sisterly bond between Ramona and Hattie, one that I truly enjoyed reading.
Saul and Ruth might just be the most adorable siblings. I also enjoyed the polarity between their personalities. Meanwhile, Freddie is just so lovely, plus I adore his grandparents!
It’s also worth noting that this book also features diversity in socio-economic class. Ramona lives in a trailer park with her sister and dad. I’m glad that we’re getting this kind of representation in books, and it makes you feel grounded too. It’s actually eye-opening to see this kind of narrative. Let’s face it, most contemporary YA books feature characters in either middle class or elite status.
Overall, this book is a perfect mix of everything. Julie Murphy’s writing is genuine and heartfelt. Her characters are easy to connect with, and she’s one of the auto-read authors, although I still need to check on Side Effects May Vary. I would definitely recommend this book, as it’s my favorite of hers so far.