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Reviewed by Rinne Lim

RAMONA BLUE                                                                                                                                                                                          By Julie Murphy                                                                                                                                                                                         432 pp. Balzer + Bray.

Julie Murphy’s Ramona Blue revolves around the thoughts, emotions, and ambitions of Ramona Leroux—or, as she is more affectionately known to her friends and family, Ramona Blue. An out lesbian, standing 6’3” tall and with perpetually blue hair, she stands out from the rest of her quaint coastal town of Eulogy, Mississippi.

Blue, the color of stability. Indeed, Ramona with the blue hair has become her family’s rock and foundation over the years, unfailingly providing stability to her father and her sister, Hattie, though Ramona herself would be, deep inside, the very opposite of stable. Never mind what she wants; Ramona’s first and only priority is her responsibility to her father and sister. Though it would mean staying forever in Eulogy and never getting to experience the change she so badly wants, Ramona is resolute to support and provide what her loved ones need the most, unlike her (mostly) absent mother.

But then, situations change for Ramona when Freddie, her childhood best friend, comes back around town. Freddie and his grandmother, Agnes, brings along Ramona to the YMCA during early mornings; and there, a passion for swimming rekindles in Ramona. Day by day, as she gets faster and better at swimming, she becomes imbued with hope, hope that Eulogy is not the be-and-end-all of her future. But dare she act on it?

Ramona Blue is preoccupied with the uncertainty of tensions: leaving versus staying, family versus self, temporality versus permanence, the comfort of the familiar versus the risk of the new and unknown. Throughout the novel, Ramona tries to exist in this sort of dynamic equilibrium so as to be able to merge these contests brought about by life and her unwavering sense of responsibility to her father and to her pregnant sister. However, such a solution is only temporary, and a decision, whether to stay in Eulogy or to leave, must be inevitably made. What does she value more: her family or the prospect of a new, different life? Dare she set off for college after graduation, even though doing so would entail her leaving her family behind? How about her growing love for Freddie, despite that it goes against who she is: will she deny her love, or will she forgo everything she has come to know about herself? These are the questions and internal battles Ramona would face, and we readers are to cheer our heroine on, in the hopes that she would finally realize that she could be larger than life, but only if she chooses to emerge and chase after the things that would truly bring her freedom.

Reading this book, I find Ramona to be a character easy and fulfilling to root for. Author Murphy offers us readers a brave, independent heroine whose virtues include resilience and selflessness, able to dedicate and sacrifice her all—including even the possibilities and could-be’s of her future—for the sake of those whom she loves the most. Despite having experienced brokenness, through hurricanes and tornadoes, Ramona continues to cultivate and strive for a love that goes beyond her.

However, for me, the selfless love Ramona exemplifies should not be considered the ultimate theme of the novel. Rather, I believe that the best insight Ramona Blue can grant to its readers is that our responsibilities to others must not render us incapable of fulfilling our responsibilities to ourselves. There must come a point in time where we finally get to choose our own happiness and aspirations. Ramona, as she discovers through Freddie more and more reasons to live, slowly allows herself to hope for a new beginning and to let go of her childhood hometown she has literally and figuratively outgrown. In the end, Ramona realizes that, as much as life should be spent taking care of our loved ones, it must equally be spent fulfilling and realizing our own needs, wants, and purposes.

This novel is all about breaking free, made even more exciting with the antics of not-so-teenagers on the verge of figuring themselves and their future out—long drives, sneaking in pools, Star Wars deflowering, finding purpose through passion, MASH, and more. With its dynamic characters and plot, Ramona Blue is just what a young adult novel ought to be.


 

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When she is not causing ruckuses and explosions in the laboratory, Rinne likes to write about everything and nothing at all. She continues to hope that, someday, mathematical formulas would beckon to her attention and imagination as eagerly as writing and literature do.

[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fully Booked. Then again, we love our authors anyway.]

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30 Comments

  1. Jayson Ababa

    My favourite YA Novel is Simon vs Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli because it has everything a LGBT Community will ever hope for a story. I really like how simon deals with his mishaps in life. And that’s what makes the novel special

  2. My favorite YA novel is The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. It taught me everything that I would never, in a thousand years, realize. That when you love someone, you should never ask for anything in return. You just love them and let them know that they are wanted. To be the person beside them, and caring for them without thinking of what’s in it for you. But most importantly, this book showed me the fragile side of life. That everyone is not as strong as they seem on the outside, and life can be quite tragic sometimes… but you’ll just have to trust in yourself and stay alive. This novel helped me be a little more kinder, and taught me that being more observant with everything around me (even when I don’t want to) doesn’t make me a total weirdo… that everyone has a story, good or bad, that makes them do crazy things. And because of that, we’ll just have to be a little more patient to the people around us, especially the ones close to us. This novel also helped me not to feel alone, and made me see that our past (no matter how awful) will no longer matter when ALL WE HAVE IS NOW. AND THAT WE HAVE TO TRY TO FEEL INFINITE EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE.

    The Perks of Being a Wallflower will always be my most favorite YA novel. And this is why.

  3. Christine

    My Favorite YA Novel is To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. It was one of the books that I read in one sitting. I love the world building, the characters and the plot. This book is so close to reality and most of the girls can relate to Lara Jean because all of us have our first love.

  4. Joshua Rodriguez

    When people start to ask me for a Y.a novel recommendation favorite , I always tell them to read Everyday by David Levithan, not only because it is one of the first Y.A novels I’ve read but it’s by far one the most unique Y.A novel I’ve learn to love, it shows how people can be so disparate from each other yet can leave in total harmony bypass those differences. It’s explorative of human nature including how it present the duality of one’s personality and that there’s always the struggle on how you want the world to see you and how they actually see you. It leaves you thinking that everyday we might not be the same person at all and that the choice of how or to whom we want to spend our days is solely ours; however we should put in mind thay there’s always the consequences for our actions that we should not overlook. Hence, we could live our lives in bliss yet in total peace.

  5. I have lots of preferred YA books and I can’t just choose one because each book has affected me in different ways possible. Illuminae and Gemina. Holding Up the Universe. Finding Audrey. Each book that I had read each had changed me and taught me unique and priceless lessons.

  6. My favourite YA novel is Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo because i find the characters really interesting as they no particularly good or bad but rather trying to survive and doing the things they think is right in their own perspective.

  7. My favorite YA novel is More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera because the story tackles about homophobia, depression to the point where the main character tried to kill himself and finding yourself in a way that you need to question yourself, what would you choose between blind happiness over an insufferable happiness. This novel is full of surprises and emotions that even putting this book down is very hard to do.

  8. Jesselen Icatar

    Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. That is my favorite YA novel right now. I love all the characters, the dialogues, everything! It’s one of those books that I have to re-read over again because it was just amazing.

  9. Marianne Manzano

    My favorite YA novel so far is A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. I love reading fantasy books and Sarah’s works are incredible! I love the alternate universe of Prythian. Behind the sexy stuff, there is love for friends and family. It shows the sacrifice of oneself to save loved ones and how hard it is. It shows the strong bond of friendship that no matter how tough the times are, they will be right beside each other.

  10. Margo Hannah

    The Female of The Species. I know Alex has issues, but I’ve never connected to narrator like I did with her. Plus the book is oozing with unapologetic feminist quotes, scenes, and POVs (Especially Alex’s). Mad, mad love for this book.

  11. There are many titles under my “Favorite YA novel” list but if I had to choose one, it would be Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson. That book tackled different kinds of love. Love for family, for friends, for special someone, but most importantly, for self. The main character, while going through the bucketlist she’s left with to complete, grew into someone she would never be if her best friend never left their town. It’s always refreshing to read something that emphasizes the significance of loving oneself before anyone else.

    With that said and after reading this review, I would like to know myself how Ramona Blue would find her way to her own happiness.

  12. Joshua delos Reyws

    My favorite YA novel is Perks of Being a Wallflower. God where do I start. I think the fact that a lot of people can relate a lot to Charlie in terms of growing up and the struggles that come along with it makes it such an important story for those who read it. Growing up, we question a lot of things and finding the answer is certainly not that easy. We fight through a lot of battles, some we win over and some we fall defeated. But in the end the day, we come to understand that everyone of us has this story of teenage angst. What’s important is how we pull through it. And Chbosky did it such an amazing way through letters, letting it speak to its readers. Just wow! YA does a lot to readers.

  13. Clyde Rennell A Lipnica

    My favorite YA novel is “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky because I sort of relate to Charlie. I mean…except the part where he got admitted to a mental institution.

    I have considered myself to be reserved for the most part. I do have acquaintances but very picky of who to be friends with because I have been let down multiple times.

    This novel reminded me that the past does not matter because we can ALWAYS choose what to do or where to go after a bad event in life.

  14. Patricia Magcalas

    The latest yound adult novel I’ve read would be the Red Queen Series written by Victoria Aveyard; specifically the third book of the series ‘King’s Cage’. It’s plot revolves around a world that is completely fueled by a belief revolving around the separation of class between two different hued blood. Red blood and silver blood. Ultimately what had sparked my interest and had me chained to the story was: one, the story has a female heroine, similar to popular ya novels such as The Hunger Games, and Divergent, second the setting of the story is quite unique compared to other fantasy novels, and third, though this may be a subtle spoiler to those who havent read it, the plot twist of the story had left a great impact to me personally. All in all I am qyite excited to read the next chapters of the series!

  15. Janis Escarcha

    My favorite YA novel at the moment is The Upside of Unrequited. This book really triggered my emotions. I was like sad then after reading a few pages I was suddenly squirming and fangirling because of Molly and Reid. I really love this book because of its diversity. It includes different kinds of gender, in the book you have lesbians, a bisexual and a pansexual which is great because I havent heard a book which has a pansexual character before. The book also have a Korean-American character on it. The writing style of the author is amazing, Becky Albertalli had written 2 books, yet I already consider her as one of my favorite authors. All in all, the book taught me how not to be ashamed of what I look like and it’s okay to be self conscious sometimes, just always keep my head up and let all people know that no matter what size you are, you can only be beautiful if you consider yourself one.

    Thank you for this lovely giveaway. I really really want to get my hands on Ramona Blue. Sorry if theres any typos or wrong grammars on my comment.

  16. This is a very tough question because I have read so many young adult novels/series, and of course it is hard for me to choose a specific book. And I know I’m not the only one who faces such dilemma. But based on the recent novels that I have read, Holding Up The Universe and All The Bright Places stayed with me. Holding Up The Universe made me appreciate myself more. That I don’t have to think of what other people think of my body size and other things about accepting myself the way I am. AND GOD, ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES MADE ME CRY SO MUCH. It’s like Anatomy of a Misfit and oh my god it still hurts. I just cant believe other people could actually label you as something as if you do not have any worth/say in your life. Other people judge so quickly as if they have all the right in this world to do so. And it hurts because they do not know how painful it is to live with such judgments which leads some people to end their lives. It’s sad. Uhm I think I said a lot but okay I love YA. And I love Julie Murphy because I’m one hell of a dumplin.

  17. Judiel Libot

    I just finished A Court of Mist and Fury by S.J. Maas and it is definitely my most favorite book of all time. I just love how the world in it is set up and how Sarah wrote it. It’s mindblowing how this story gets you invested in the characters, and everything in it. The part I love the most is it make you think of how you should accept and love yourself, all of it, the good and (especially) the bad because if you don’t then someday it will destroy you. It’s a book that will consume you, and you’ll love every moment of it.

  18. Mary Dennielle Luyahan

    My all time fave is Perfectly Imperfect by Harper Sloan. Through the years, there’s always a Willow Tate inside me that’s why I can relate to her. She seems to be real to me. I’m like her in a way that she’s so negative about herself, for always being so afraid of what others might say about her. And so I admire the process she went through in becoming the strong woman she is at the end of the story. She took the chance and trusted those who wants to help her climb back up, even though she knows that there’s so many challenges waiting for her along the way. She believed she could so she took that leap.

  19. I loved Aristotle and Dante by Benjamin Alire Saenz because it was so easy to fall in love with the characters, the writing, everything! I also loved that it doesn’t really have an actual “plot”, it was just a story of a boy struggling to find and understand and ,in the process, accepts himself.

  20. Everything, everything is my favorite YA book. Beautiful story of young love, rare disease and new life.

  21. None Of The Above by I.W Gregorio introduces a new kind of different. It showcases an intersex character, who slowly loses everything once she knew about her diagnosis. But with the love and faith of her family that radiated through her, she is able to keep up with the difficulties of having AIS. It opens our eyes to idea that even when everything seems to fall apart, life will always find a way to put things back together. This book seeks for redemption, and having the courage to deal with our own demons.

  22. Alden Pilongo

    We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson is my favorite young adult novel because it does not just focus on Henry’s struggle with “aliens” but everything from his own self, friends, young love and to family. It’s emotion is raw and powerful enough to drive your eyes to waterfalls.

  23. Sherina Joy Santos

    My current fave YA novel is Everyday by David Levithan. I loveeee this book because it teaches the readers how to love unconditionally. This story tells us that we should love not based on the physical appearance and gender but based on what’s inside. We should love people not because they’re pretty or handsome or they’re rich but because we love them. No reasons needed. ❤️❤️❤️

  24. I think this novel will help a lot of teenagers open their minds about what’s to come in their life; all the experiences and falls they’ll feel.

  25. Joaquin Querido

    I love The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon because it’s a fresh contemporary fiction (for me) that tackles love at first sight between characters of different ethnicities (and one of them is an illegal immigrant which we don’t see much representation in a lot of young adult novels).

  26. My favorite YA novel is Looking for Alaska by John Green because I’ve always related to Miles and his search for the Great Perhaps and I love the symbolisms presented in the book. The bonus reason as to why it’s my favorite is because of Alaska. She’s my dream girl.

  27. Louie Barcelon

    The Hate U Give because it covers a lot of topic that is really relevant to our world today. And also it’s really good and an eye-opener.

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