Review: Ramona Blue

Ramona Blue

 

Julie Murphy is an insta-buy author in my world. She is a local Texas girl so I will always support her. Plus she is just hella cool. I was very excited for her newest novel, Ramona Blue, and even more excited when it became available from my library. This was a very well written story that will be important to some people and for that, I gave it a happy 4 stars.

Short recap: Ramona lives in small town Mississippi, loves swimming, is openly gay, has a pregnant older sister, has survived a terrible hurricane, and is slowly falling for her best friend, Freddie. Falling for Freddie makes her question nearly everything about herself. Can Ramona keep everything together and be able to accept this new love into her life?

Ramona was a fiercely complex character and I loved that about her. From page one she knew who she was as a person. She had been through more in her short life than most people go through in a lifetime. What did bother me most was that she felt she needed to save everyone no matter what. She felt she needed to protect and provide for her older sister after she found out she was pregnant. She felt she needed to work as much as she could after high school let out so she could pay bills. She felt she needed to give up on her dreams of getting out of her small town so she could provide for her family. I get how much she loved her family, but come on! She needed to let her sister, Hattie, fall on her face! Everyone has to experience rock bottom at some point (actually, I hope nobody has to experience that. It’s truly awful) or at least fall down and learn to pick themselves back up. Because everyone around Ramona knew she would sacrifice they were never afraid to ask her for help. It hurt me to see this teenager have to be so much older than she really was. It made me want to slap her daddy for putting that much pressure on one daughter and not the other. Or maybe that is just the sign of a good book, to be able to stir up so many emotions that way.

The other thing about Ramona’s character that stood out was how much she beat herself up internally because she knew she was gay but started developing feelings for her childhood male friend, Freddie. It felt like she was so against being bisexual or anything other than lesbian that she was embarrassed by it. Why was it so difficult for her to accept what was going on? Loving people of both sexes did not make her a horrible person! She did not have to fit under any one label, but she put too much pressure on herself to do just that – fit under a specific label. I wish she had just calmed down a little bit about it.

The rest of the characters played their part and I can see why they were there. I know that sounds cliche and vague, but hear me out. Ramona had few friends outside of the ones she worked with at her after school job. I don’t remember any of them standing out to me too much but that was just me. This story really focused more on Ramona, Freddie, and Ramona’s pregnant sister.

The one thing that fell short for me was the swimming. Ramona was supposed to be madly in love with swimming but it felt like it was hardly touched upon. I wish that had been expanded on more. Other than that, this was a wonderful story! It made me start asking questions and pondering about things. It also brought up emotions for me and made me feel things about fictional characters so kudos to you, Ms. Murphy! Well done. I hope everyone gives this book a chance.

 

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Waiting on Wednesday: Ramona Blue

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

This week’s pre-publication “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Ramona Blue

From Goodreads:

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. ”

 

Ignoring the hateful reviews on Goodreads that shouldn’t be there, have you added this to your TBR already??

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Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

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Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

 

This is one book you need to add to your TBR stack NOW if you have not already. This story gave me all of the feels and in the best ways possible. I almost wish I could read it again for the first time.

Dumplin’ is the story of Willowdean and her struggle with being an overweight teenager in a small Texas country town. That may not sound like much but growing up in a small town is tough, I can tell you from experience. Willowdean has accepted and embraced the fact that she is overweight. She is not out to be the most popular or follow the crowd, which is very refreshing. All of that changes quickly and Willowdean struggles to stay true to herself.

I felt a connection to Willowdean having grown up overweight myself. I wish I had half as much self-confidence as she has, it might have made my younger years a lot easier. The rest of the characters had their voices and quirks, some of which were not so enjoyable, but you still found yourself cheering for them all.

There were parts of the romance within this story that felt like they hit too close to home, they were that realistic. At the same time, I felt like some of the story was left out because I could not figure out how or why Willowdean and the love interest, Bo, went from happy to mad at each other. I kept flipping back a few pages to make sure I did not miss anything. The ending felt a wee bit rushed, and again, made me feel like I missed something.

Overall, this was just a fun, inspiring, and entertaining read. I cannot say that enough. The pages will keep turning and you will find yourself giggling at parts, while swooning at others. This was such a refreshing contemporary read. I recommend everyone pick it up now. I gave his book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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