Some books are just extremely timely.
Warning: emotional post ahead. That doesn’t happen on this blog a whole lot unless that emotion is the equivalent of “!!!!!!!!!”. You’ve been warned.
- Author: Julie Murphy
- Publisher: Balzer + Bray
- Year: 2017
- Genre vibe: Southern contemporary, romance
- At a glance: Ramona is six feet too tall for anything in the town of Eulogy, where she’s scraping to keep her whole family afloat and also work out her feelings when it comes to Grace, her not-quite-girlfriend, and Freddie, her longtime best friend and potential soulmate. But everything is a hell of a lot more complicated than that.
I am not the person that Ramona Blue was written for. In a sense, I know this is incorrect, because I’m of the belief that whatever you get out of a book you were meant to get, and that if you’re willing, any book can have been written for anyone. But insofar as things go, I don’t think I’m really the kind of person that was really “meant” to be this deeply touched by Ramona’s story. I picked Ramona up because I heard a lot about it, and hot damn that cover design. What I didn’t anticipate is the amount of things inside her story that I’d…well, relate to, I guess.
The thing I got the most from this book was the fact that Julie Murphy is a superb storyteller, and also an incredibly truthful one. Because some of the things in this book are things that I’ve not come across put into words before, and when I found them I hadn’t even realized I’d been looking for them. Ramona Blue is full of lines and pieces that make your heart stop for a second because…oh, right, that emotion. I know that. “I ignore the way my body sings with affection for him“. It’s beautiful, all the way through.
Ramona’s story is complicated and has a lot of facets. A lot of them are facets that reflect huge, important topics, like race and sexuality. Family and loyalty and breakups and love.
But a lot of them are smaller, too. A lot of them are things you may only see if they’re something you deal with, too, and things that may not even be intentional. There are so many pieces of Ramona’s story.
What stuck out to me the most was this: Ramona’s story is not about what you are and what you aren’t. Ramona’s story is about how every single piece of you is a part of who you are. It’s not about what you call yourself; it’s about how you call the shots.
It’s kind of like–
You know how “you are what you eat”? It’s kind of like if that was your life. Not that “you are what you consume”, but “you are what you choose to imbibe”, “you are what fuels you”, you are both what you enjoy and what you hate you are what you have a taste for and you are how your tastes change as you grow and as you experience. You are in a constant state of regeneration as a person. Because your story is as much your pattern of events as how you choose to handle them, and your story is also made up of a thousand different moving parts and changes. You’re not one thing. You don’t have to be.
Ramona Blue was an extremely timely book for me to read. I hadn’t expected to find such kinship in Ramona, or to…not feel like an impostor in her story. Reading Ramona and finding the amount of truth in her pages that I did was startling. I picked up my copy at one of my favorite bookstores in the world, and reading it was kind of like going home there, because I always learn something new about myself when I visit it.
Ramona taught me that I don’t have to be my own standard to be myself. She taught me that I don’t have to own my label if it’s not the right one. She also taught me that more than one label is perfectly okay, and she taught me that at the end of the day, you take all your labels off when you fall in love anyways. Even if what you’re falling in love with isn’t a person; even if maybe it’s books or it’s music or it’s whatever your thing is, do you go into it thinking about all of the things you tell yourself you are all the time?
Of course not.
Do the things that make you up lose their value when you shuck them off for a while?
Of course not. Difficult things are difficult. You carry the things you carry for a reason. They are armor or scars or color or sparkle and shine and they are parts of you. Because you are made up of so, so many parts, and all of them are valid.
Ramona Blue was just what I needed. I won’t let her go for a very, very long time. Because some books are…
- infinity / 5 stars
- weightlessness underwater, and magnetism, and lunch rush and the gritty gravel road that takes you home
- Angela by The Lumineers
- for people who maybe feel like a contradiction. and maybe they need a little courage, too.