Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose is 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 her 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.
Title: A Blue So Dark
Author: Holly Schindler
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication Date: May 1, 2010
Tour: This review is part of the Teen Book Scene blog tour. You can follow along with the tour here. Aura's character interview was posted this past Tuesday, and you can find the interview as well as the giveaway here.
My rating: 4/5
Aura has had to take care of her mother ever since her father left. Life isn't easy, especially knowing that her mother is schizophrenic. Both Aura and her mother are extremely creative, and they are drawn to art like a moth to flame. The only thing stopping Aura from immersing herself in her artwork is the fact that being creative may lead to being crazy. Knowing that she may have inherited the "crazy" gene, she tries to stay away from art, and anything creative. When her mother's condition starts spiraling out of control, Aura will finally have to reach out to someone to get help.
Aura is an exceedingly realistic character, and her love for her mother, Grace, shows throughout A Blue So Dark. She cares and tends for her mother, most often having to trick her into eating. She also tries to show her what is real, and what is just an illusion when her mom is having an episode. She's absolutely mortified that people might find out, but what makes things even worse, is that if something happens to her mother, or she gets locked up, what is going to happen to Aura? Her father seems to have washed his hands of his first family, and Aura doesn't know who to turn to for help. Aura tries to show her friend, Janny, what is going on, but Janny is dealing with issues of her own and doesn't want to help. I enjoyed reading about the relationship that they had, but I found there wasn't enough background on their friendship in the beginning. Once we find out just what Janny is dealing with, things are put into perspective, and you can see why she may not want to help Aura at first. Regardless of my first impression of Janny, I found that her friendship with Aura strengthened throughout the book and she showed her true colours.
Aura explores the differences between "crazy" and "creative", all the while reeling the reader deeper and deeper into her story. Her struggle with schizophrenia, creativity, and her mother makes this a heartbreaking book of discovery and self-discovery. Her father, out of the picture, should never have put her in the position that he did. His new family, and new life alienate her even more.
All in all, a touching and mesmerizing story that realistically details what it is like to live with a parent who has schizophrenia. The love, and loss entangled throughout make this a truly moving read. I'd definitely recommend this book to those looking for a contemporary read. This is as real as it gets.