“You’ve never dated any guys?’
I shrug. ‘Haven’t even kissed one.’ And then I add, ‘Well, in recent years.’
‘Then how do you know you don’t like guys?’
‘I don’t know, Freddie,’ I say, trying to hide my irritation. ‘How many boys did you kiss before you realized you were straight?”
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy is the third and final book I received in a Spring giveaway for HarperCollins’s young adult fiction. It is about a young woman, Ramona, who understands just three things about herself: she loves her family, she like girls, and she knows she wants more out of life than just the trailer she currently calls home.
Out of the three books, I think this one is my least favourite. It is not bad, per se, but I definitely did not glean as much enjoyment out of this one as I did the others. Now, I loved how they included LGBTQ characters in this book. I think the diversity and the representation is particularly important in young adult fiction.
The writing quality was relatively good, though I think the book could have been shorter and still gotten the information and story across to each reader. There are extraneous storylines making things unnecessarily long. I think, while sometimes books can get away with this, it does cause problems elsewhere in the story, because other stories get too truncated as a result of the unnecessary ones.
For instance, there is a big part of the later portions of the story I think is incredibly problematic. Now, it does not need to be this way, but I think it is rushed because the book really should not go on longer, but the extraneous stories are taking up too much space. Without revealing everything (though you might want to skip this bit if you are really afraid of spoilers), it happens to be related to the mentality that someone could be “fixed” from being gay if only they met the right man (or woman). Now, there is nothing problematic about being bisexual, but something about the presentation of this in Ramona Blue strikes me in the wrong way. One part seems like it is tacked on, and the other seems like it buys into the “fixed” mentality. Now, this may not be the intention by any means, but it is the way it came off to me. I think if there were more room to dive into this portion of the story, this would not have been an issue.
Moving on, I really enjoyed Ramona’s dedication to her sister, even if her sister is not always receptive to it. I do not have a sister, but I do have close female friends I would definitely do the same things for as Ramona did for Hattie. No question about it. Granted, I doubt we would ever find ourselves in a situation like Hattie’s, but I would still be there for my friends if it did happen.
If you want to read a book with LGBTQ characters, I would still recommend you give this one a read. Despite the things I did not like about Ramona Blue, I think it is still a relatively decent young adult novel. It certainly does have some lessons and some of the stories within it, while common in reality, seem woefully underdeveloped in fiction.
If you do decide to give Ramona Blue a try, I would love to know what you think. Did you find anything problematic in the story? Should anyone ask, I can explain more about the storyline in detail in the comments. Did you find some stories were unnecessary to the overall plot? Do you have any other thoughts you want to share? Leave them in the comments below.
Title: Ramona Blue
Author: Julie Murphy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)