**non-traditional review coming at you**

Today I’m here to talk to you about Ramona Blue. Just so you know this part of the review is spoiler free so you can read it whether you’ve read Ramona Blue or no. I’ll let you know when the spoilers come in! I traded away an extra copy of ACOL for Ramona Blue; it’s the best decision I’ve made in a really long time. I wanted to do a review of my usual type, but as I read this I didn’t want to stop to write down my reactions. Mostly because, well, I didn’t have any… that is, I had very few immediate reactions to parts of the book. I did have a few reactions to different events, which I will share at the very end. Sometimes I’ll read a book and I’ll just be enjoying it so much that all my thoughts disappear and this completely happened with Ramon Blue. I regret that my review is non-tradition, but I was able to bask in the glory that is Ramona Blue and I have no bothers to give.

This book meant a lot of things to me for many different reasons, it helped me confront some feelings I have. Ramona was definitely more of an adult (maturity wise) than I was at the tender age of 17, but that didn’t make her less relatable. The best part of this book is how well it’s executed. This book covers an entire school year, and it never feels rushed or confusing. I liked having a few different snippets from each month because in memory, that’s generally how we remember. The days blend together and only the important days stand out. Although we weren’t with them every waking moment, I felt just as connected to Ramona as characters I’ve walked every step with; which is certainly an accomplishment.

Reading about Ramona’s relationship with her sister was like time traveling in a way. I have a younger sister and I see so many elements of my childhood with my sister in this book. There’s those fights where you scream at each other and the hurt when she decides to hang out with her friends instead of you. But then there’s unflinching loyalty and the inside jokes. Further, I’ve never been able to be as true to myself as when I’m with my sister. The family traditions (like the day before school tradition Ramona and Hattie have) that you’ve done again and again and no one else understands them. I think Ramona Blue perfectly encapsulate that relationship; through it all, the resounding messages in this book are “support each other” and “unconditional love,” two things YA fundamentally lacks.

And I mean unconditional love in many different ways. There are many different types of love in this book there’s familial love between Ramona and every character (with one notable exception); there’s some, complex parental love, heartbroken love, friendship love, new romantic love, there’s just a lot of love going around in this book and I’m in love with it.

That being said, this book caused something of a stir before it was even released owning to the blurb. I never read the first blurb, that had so many people hurt and dejected that this happened, yet again. Before I share my thoughts on this, here are thoughts on Ramona Blue from a bisexual book blogger. She concisely made a lot of good points about this book; do the thing and read the thread:

I understand where that hurt comes from, and I understand those who identify as lesbian and felt like their story was being yanked out from underneath them. When you fight so hard for representation, it’s hard to see that being taken away. At the same time, Ramona’s fluid sexuality is not something to brush off and hers is a voice that must be represented. There are so many characters in our world with diverse sexualities and orientations who feel solidly in those identities; make no mistake, those voices must be heard. But those who feel they are in between the lines; those who feel unsure and hesitant to label; those who don’t want a label at all; these stories do exist in real life and must exist on page as well. The fact that this book exists at all is a testament to the right direction we’re all headed. Ultimately the message of this book is to be yourself, which sounds overdone and cliché but in the context of Ramona Blue it is appropriate and fits. Your sexuality is your decision; how/if you want to identify and when isn’t anything else someone can dictate, and you don’t need to be sorry about it either.

Spoiler part starts here!

I loved the relationship between Ramona and Freddie; it was so sweet and innocent at times, but then mature and serious at others. The almost seamless transition between their friendship and romantic relationship was so well done. It was refreshing for things to just fall into place for them. Not that I don’t like angsty romances, but it’s nice to see some variety. Reading about their date was so fun and I loved seeing so many different scenes from their daily life together, the little things like them holding hands in public in New Orleans or Ramona’s pride swelling because Agnes likes her as Freddie’s girlfriend or the weight Ramona and Freddie put on Peter Pan and Wendy Darling. Their relationship feels true blue and more genuine than some other YA couples. They’re not sweeping each other off their feet or falling in love after slaying a dragon; they’re falling in love one day at a time.

Some random thoughts:

  • Ramona has a million jobs, and I’m glad that never deviated from the story. Like sometimes YA books will be like, “She’s obsessed with drawing (or knitting or whathaveyou),” and the MC will draw for the first chapter and then NEVER AGAIN and I’m like I thought this was a fundamental part of her character? Who knows I’m just a reader… Anywho, Murphy helped us understand Ramona’s business without sacrificing plot. Something very refreshing, especially since it seems like in YA books (with teenagers who go to school and have homework and work part time jobs etc.) they never actually fill any of those responsibilities. Ramona’s job is constantly mentioned and whenever someone invites her to do something, her first instinct is to think about work. A+ crafting Murphy.

Reactions:

  • Ramona’s mother is horrifying, like honestly after ever scene with her I was just like what the flip is up with this woman. And she’s so passive aggressive about Ramona liking women, like OK. But not OK.
  • INTERRACIAL COUPLE YES IT’S ON MY LIST.
  • Ramona and Freddie talking on New Year’s Day was me LIVING. Not only is it an actual communicative talk about sex (anatomically speaking), but they both talk about consent and what they want. It reminds me of all the late night talks I had with my husband right after we got married.
  • ALSO VERBAL CONSENT I AM LIVING.
  • Also the anatomical mentions in this book, I can count two boners. Yes, this is real life and more realistic sex.
  • I’m really happy Freddie and Ramona got back together in the end because I actually LOVE them. I love their playfulness and serious moments. Their relationship is probably only the second one I’ve found in YA that’s even remotely like my real life relationship.

Favorite Quotes: *note all quotes and page numbers are subject to change in the final print*

  • “Love isn’t all you need, but it’s a start, I guess.” (143)
  • “I’m starting to think that maybe the gist of life is learning how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.” (207)
  • “Sometimes we let ourselves believe that if it’s not bad, it must be good.” (227)
  • “At the end of the day they’re objects and only we can give them meaning.” (230) I legit thought of Shadowhunters the whole time Ramona and Freddie were in Hex.
  • “Maybe it’s not just standing still that gets you left behind. You can be going places and still find yourself abandoned in some way.” (248)
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