Sunday, May 2, 2010
Review: A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler
Title: A Blue So Dark
Author: Holly Schindler
Pub. Date: 5/1/10
Main Themes: Artists, Mental Disorders, Divorce, Love, Friendship, Schizophrenia
Description (from GoodReads):
Terrified that her mother, a schizophrenic and an artist, is a mirror that reflects her own future, sixteen-year-old Aura struggles with her overwhelming desires to both chase artistic pursuits and keep madness at bay.
As her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet keeps drawing Aura toward the depths of her own imagination—the shadows of make-believe that she finds frighteningly similar to her mother’s hallucinations.
Convinced that creative equals crazy, Aura shuns her art, and her life unravels in the process.
I was first drawn to a A BLUE SO DARK by the amazing cover art; the color of the water and the positioning and detail of the title are perfect. I never could've imagined just how much I'd enjoy Holly Schindler's YA debut!
I've always had a preoccupation with abnormal psychology and two people I am very close to are artists, so I found the connection between schizophrenia and artistic temperments interesting. Though there are exceptions, I find that many artists honestly can be described as having an "artist's temperment;" I feel like those who are truly creative must share some common personality traits. Because of this, I could draw similarities between artists I know and Aura and her mother, allowing me to feel that much closer to the characters. The schizophrenia was an interesting element. Aura's fear that her creativity would overtake her and somehow cause her to become sick like her mother was almost tangible. On the outside looking in, it might be hard to understand Aura's logic and actions, but I felt like Schindler's writing enables the reader to transport themselves into Aura's world, into Aura herself, to truly understand her anxiety.
Aura's parents are divorced; her father is remarried to a much younger, must more "normal" woman and he is in the process of starting a new, shiny family. Even now, having finished the novel, I still feel angry when I think about Aura's father. I can understand and justify his leaving Aura's mother if he no longer loves her or can find happiness with her, but he has no right to leave Aura. You do not get to divorce your children. Ever. Most of the time, in YA literature, the child and parent work through their issues by the end of the novel, but this isn't the case with A BLUE SO DARK, and I can honestly say that I'm happy about that. I didn't feel like Aura's father deserved forgiveness.
Though there are many heavy aspects of this novel, there were lighter, brighter parts as well, like Aura's crush on a cute skater boy. This was a huge part of the novel, as expected, her mother's illness occupied much of Aura's time and energy, but I was greatful for the romantic reprieves.
As mentioned at the beginning of my review, I'm a huge fan of the novel's cover. One of my favorite parts about the cover is the texture. The novel is softcover and it is soft and almost silky. Flux did an amazing job with this cover art!