July 5, 2011
A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler
Tell a teen they are just like their mother (or father) and watch them cringe. But for Aura, this comment is truly cringe-worthy. Her mother may be a gifted artist and teacher, but she is also mentally ill and her schizophrenia is dominating every aspect of their lives.
Aura thought she was doing her mother a favor when she flushed the pills and promised not to tell her father. After all, Dad had walked out of their lives and had a new family with a perfect wife and a gorgeous little daughter. No longer the supportive, loving man Auru remembered, he was now driven by the need to fit in and make something of himself. Something that apparently did not include his oldest daughter.
But Aura doesn’t know what to do. Mom’s episodes are getting worse — dominating larger portions of the day and pulling her mother into destructive behavior as she tears things up, sets fires and deteriorates before Aura’s eyes.
Still, Aura questions whether or not she’s seeing what is actually there. How can she be sure? What if her grasp of reality is as loose as her mother’s? After all, she is both an artist and a writer. Given the links between creativity and insanity, can her own breakdown be far behind?
Whether or not they have ever had to cope with a parent’s mental illness, readers will identify with Aura. All teens, after all, know what it is to be humiliated by their parents on a daily basis and to be surrounded by clueless adults.
Before you raise any objections, not all of the adults in this book are clueless. Not by a long shot. It just so happens that the adults who should form Aura’s safety net are among the worst.
I know, I know. As a caring, level-headed adult, you don’t want to believe that her father could just up and leave his teen daughter with her mentally ill mother. It happens.
And don’t think that this book is all dark moodiness. Aura’s best friend Janny is smart, sassy and funny as is her grandmother, once she gets to know her.
Special thanks to Schindler for a book that takes a realistic look at mental illness, responsibility and creativity with just a hint of romance thrown in. This book is a great way to amuse yourself on a hot summer afternoon.