Review: Blue by Lou Aronica

It takes a lot of skill to cover a heavy topic like leukemia without making a story that is completely depressing, but Lou Aronica has done just that with his latest novel, Blue

The story follows Becky, a fourteen-year old who has fought cancer and won only to be left with the break up of her parents’ marriage and the fragile shell of a relationship she has with her father, Chris. Chris’ divorce and limited time with Becky have taken an immense toll on his sanity, leaving him depressed, bitter, and ignoring the present as he attempts to live in the past. While Chris and Becky love each other enormously, Chris’ mind set and Becky’s take on what happened during and after the divorce make it difficult for them to connect on any real level; visits are tense and unfulfilling.

The illness Becky beat reappears, however, and instead of rocking her and her family, it created the spark the pair needed to get their relationship back on track and rediscover  the bond they once shared. One of the biggest ways Becky and Chris reconnect is through their shared love of the world of Tamarisk, a fantasy kingdom they created while Becky was sick the first time. After the divorce, Becky gave up on this world in order to express her unhappiness with her father for leaving their home, but her new illness lets them rediscover the kingdom and leads to an exciting discovery: Tamarisk is real.

Becky is able to communicate with Miea, the Queen of Tamarisk who, like everything else in that world, Becky and Chris created. Meia and her world are facing an enormous problem that could lead to the destruction of her kingdom as she knows it. As Meia and Becky communicate, they try to help each other with their problems and become close friends. After Chris finds out what is going on, the trio uncover a secret that helps define their purpose and gives them the hope the desperately need.

What an amazing story! I was a little confused at first because many of the chapters jump from Chris to Becky to Meia to a universal “being” called Gage and figuring out who was who was a little complicated. Once you catch on and the chapters aren’t split up as much, it is very easy to get into the story. The characters are well defined and you could easily understand unexpected reactions. The world of Tamarisk is practically another character and is fun to explore and get to know. Aronica did a fabulous job at working a fantasy world into a story about a Connecticut family without making it seem hokey or contrived. At the same time, he takes a very depressing subject and writes it so that, while it is sad at points, there is also hope and energy to counteract the darkness.

Blue is a very moving novel that you will find surprisingly uplifting and inspirational.

4 stars

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