Friday, June 25, 2010

Review: A Blue So Dark, by Holly Schindler

A Blue So Dark, by Holly Schindler

Published: May 1, 2010

Publisher: Flux

Pages: 288

Overall Rating:

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.

Going into A Blue So Dark, I felt a bit distracted. The story takes place in the same town I've lived in my entire life, so I found myself constantly questioning every location mentioned in the book. A lot of the names were changed a bit, but I believe for anyone living here, it seems pretty likely that Crestview High School was a combination of our Hillcrest and Parkview schools. The schools location seems to be described as the exact location of our Kickapoo High School. Brailly Alternative High School, coming from our Bailey Alternative High School. (Which actually isn't for violent kids. It may have been at one point in time, but nowadays the kids who go there are there because they want to be there. There's a signup process and waiting list, I know because I was on it, because I went there.) See what I mean? Distracting.

Moving on....

The book flowed well. I was immediately drawn in by her writing style, and even when I was wishing for more action, the way the words flowed kept me interested.

I could relate to this book in many ways. For one, I've lived around people who aren't necessarily sane for my entire life. Love 'em all to death, but it's the truth. My step-grandma suffered from schizophrenia, and I had witnessed a few "episodes" as Aura and her dad call them in the book. I'd seen her completely flip out and attack people, for some unknown reason, only existing in her imagination. It isn't a pleasant thing to watch. It's heartbreaking, watching someone you love slip away from reality like that, and I'll never forget what she went through.

I also had an Aunt go into a catatonic phase once. Once again, not a pleasant thing to watch. Staring into the eyes of someone when there's nothing behind them is, for lack of a better word, trippy. There's no light in their eyes, no recognition, and still yet in the back of your mind you wonder if that emptiness will at any moment, turn into rage. You fear that they may never come out of it, and that makes it nearly unbearable. But you have no choice but to face it, deal with it, take it one step at a time, and if you're lucky (we were), they'll snap out of it.

Aura feels like creativity is directly linked to mental illness. As a lover of art, I've always struggled with the creative part of my brain and wondered the same thing. "How do they do it?!" Because I certainly can't, I can only draw what I see, right in front of me.

Enough about me---geez. Back to the book.

There weren't many characters in this book, but the ones who were, were important. Her best friend Janny was a teen mom. I think that just adds to realness of this book. Despite what people may think or say about teen parenting, it's everywhere. Especially here of course, where the book takes place.

I saw Jeremy as a representation of all of the things Aura couldn't have, due to her mother's illness. It controlled every aspect of her life. My only complaint with the book is, I wish we could've saw more of him.

Overall, I found it fantastically written, and completely real. I enjoyed it, and I'd recommend it.

Writing Style

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