Welcome to my blog. I often think I was born with a book in my hand. I have always enjoyed reading, but more importantly, talking about books. This blog is partially about reviews, but is really a forum to talk about what I'm reading, and express all of the thoughts and feelings that there simply isn't room for in a professional review. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on your favourite books as you follow my reading journey.

Monday, July 4, 2011

True Blue: An Engaging and Gripping Read

Casey, “Preying Mantis” has always known she was going to be an entomologist. And what about Jess? When Jess became a runner, Casey nicknamed her “Dragonfly.” The pair have been best friends forever, but when Casey is arrested for murder, the whole town takes sides, and Jess finds herself the centre of attention. Without Casey, Jess feels left behind, but will she find the courage to stand by her friend when she needs her the most?

With her new book, True Blue, (releasing in August from new publisher Pajama Press) Deborah Ellis departs from her usual fare to create a complex psychological story. Jess and Casey have always been inseperable, and when Casey is arrested for the murder of one of their summer campers, Jess can hardly believe it. In fact, she's so certain that it will all turn out to be a mistake, when her mother springs into action, Jess does nothing, and continues to do nothing, even as Casey's situation becomes more dire.

At first glance, it would be easy to dislike Jess for not supporting her friend, but what Deborah Ellis so skillfully illustrates, taking the moral high road is never as easy at it seems.
Casey is all anyone talks about in town, and it seems like they've already tried and convicted her before she's even gone to trial. Everyone knows that Jess and Casey are best friends, and Jess suddenly finds herself the centre of unwanted attention. At the same time, she begins to enjoy some newfound popularity, and feelings of resentment for Casey bubble to the surface. Maybe Casey was holding her back all along, and now that she's alone, she can finally be part of the crowd.  While part of her is suspicious of their motives, some part of her also enjoys belonging, and she ignores the inevitable.

There's a lot going on in Jess' head, and with a silent father and a mother who is quickly spiraling back into mental illness, she finds herself completely alone, and unable to bring herself to do what she knows is right. No matter what she does, there is no winning for her, and her awareness of this makes her an extremely interesting and complex character.

What most appealed to me about the book was that there is never that dramatic moment where the main character stands up in front of everybody and makes the speech that turns the tide and there are no happily ever afters. Whether or not Casey was guilty is largely irrelevant. What's more important is the impact of the accusation itself, and the lives that are irrevocably changed by it.

This is a fast-paced and thought-provoking read, and one that will generate lots of interesting questions for discussion both in and out of the classroom for tweens and teens.

Highly recommended 12 years and up.