Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review: A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler

A Blue So Dark by Holly Schidler
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talented artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura's dad left them. Convinced that "creative" equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears.

First sentence: When I was ten, I took my best friend Janny on our family vacation.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

So many people call books they really like "pageturners" - when reading a good book they want to know what happens next as fast as possible and can't put the book down. For me, though, the opposite is true: I'm usually a pretty fast reader, but when I really like a book, I read more slowly and want to take in every word. That's how A Blue So Dark was for me - I had to slow down to take in every beautifully written word. Holly Schindler's prose is great - lyrical and beautiful. Sometimes it bordered on melodramatic, though.

I love the whole idea for this novel. I didn't know too much about schizophrenia before reading this book, but I think mental illness is fascinating. I really liked the snippets of information at the beginning of every chapter. I can't judge whether or not the descriptions of Aura's mother are realistic, but they definitely seemed believable. The connection of creativity and mental illness is interesting, too, and a really original idea for a Young Adult novel.

The characters in A Blue So Dark are all complex and realistic because of their flaws. Aura is determined, brave and independent, but not perfect and still easy to relate to. I felt all of her emotions. The mother, like I said, was described really well. I loved the contrasts between how Aura saw her as a child and how she sees her today with the schizophrenia, and the description of her "episodes" are so real they're almost scary. The relationship between Aura and Janny is great and dynamic as well - she's the perfect dysfunctional friend. Another character I loved was Nell, even though she doesn't play a that important role - she's so strong and admirable.

One thing I didn't get was Aura's situation at school. In general, I enjoyed Holly Schindler's sparse writing style, but I think a little more explanation for that storyline would have been helpful. I didn't get that whole thing of Aura being a "gypsy". If it had been elaborated on more, it might have added something to the main plot, but like this it didn't really do anything for me. The same goes for the relationship between Aura and Jeremy. The reader only got to know a little about that, and I didn't think that helped the main plot. In my opinion, that storyline should either have been elaborated on more or the author should have just left it out completely - like this it just seemed like she wanted to add a love interest for no real reason other than having a love interest. I did think the thing with the skateboard was cute, though.

Despite those little problems, this is a great read, portraying raw emotion on a difficult topic with beautiful prose and great characters. I definitely recommend it, and I'm looking forward to reading more by Holly Schindler in the future!


  1. Hmmm...this was one I wasn't sure about. It looks like one I might enjoy if it crosses my path, but I won't go out of my way for it. Love the cover and title, though. Thanks for the great review!

  2. Sounds interesting. I already feel like I could connect with Aura. It's gotta be difficult to care for a parent with mental illness. Thanks for the review.

  3. Ahhh I'm from Germany too!:D
    But I haven't heard of this book before, but you really made it sound awesome(:
    Fantastic review,

    Make sure to check out my 50 Follower Giveaway!:D

  4. This sounds so good. Exactly something I would love to read. Great review.

  5. I have been wanting to read this book for a while. I have never read anything by Holly, but this sounds like a good first read of here book for me. I love the cover :)

  6. I've been wanting to read this book for a while now. Still sounds great!

  7. This book sounds interesting! I can't wait to read it my self! Great review!

  8. Great review! I've read a review of this book on another blog and my interest to read it just keeps increasing!
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