I was worried about this one since a big plot point is a young lesbian falling in love with her male friend and I wasn’t sure I’d appreciate sexuality being treated as a plot point. It seems like a lot of other people had similar fears and, instead of reading the book like I chose to, flooded Goodreads with 1 Star reviews out of spite. I hope some of these people decide to pick Ramona Blue up anyway because I think Murphy did an excellent job of navigating what could potentially be a tricky subject by steering the narrative towards a general coming of age story instead. There are also a lot of great background characters in this one.
“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’s lower middle class family was dealt a blow by Hurricane Katrina when she was a young girl and never they fully recovered. Ramona, her father and sister, Hattie, now live in a trailer while her mother, who left shortly after the disaster, dresses like a teenager and works out of town in a casino. Ramona is headed into her senior year of high school following a summer romance with a closeted out of towner. To make things more complicated Ramona’s sister, Hattie, is pregnant.
So Ramona is a little heartbroken and stressed but she is thrilled when her old friend, Freddie, comes back to their small town of Eulogy, Mississippi. Ramona is an out a proud lesbian but the more time she spends with Freddie the more confused she feels. Murphy deftly handles the reality of a young person coming to terms with being bisexual and the stigmas attached to not being 100% gay or straight. Even if you take the sexuality elements out of the story it is a great example of how scary it can be to turn a friendship into a romantic relationship. There is also a lot of great social commentary about growing up poor and the limitations young people (especially poor young people) face when they think about their futures. Things aren’t always black and white which makes this an important book for young people to read.
In short, don’t judge a book by its back cover. Or its bogus Goodreads reviews.