Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
Synopsis – goodreads
Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.
Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.
The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.
I’d heard good things about Ramona Blue but wow I’m glad I experienced it for myself. I’m no stranger to Julie Murphy as I’ve started and almost finished Dumplin’. Don’t look at me like that. In my defense, my mom “borrowed” the book before I could finish it and by the time she finished it, I had moved on to different books.
As I was saying, familiar with Julie Murphy’s writing style and genuinely enjoying her work, I’d expected a sense of familiarity, maybe the use of similar tropes. But I don’t think I was prepared to like Ramona Blue as much as I did.
First and foremost, the main character Ramona is tall and not 5’9 tall for a girl tall but REALLY tall. And I hadn’t realized how much I craved a character like this until I read the book. Ramona is 6’2 and loves the water. I myself am 5’11 and a half and I’m obsessed with the water.
I love how versatile Ramona’s character is. I tried to put Ramona in certain boxes or categories as I listened page after page and chapter after chapter. And each time I put her in one, she hopped into another one until finally I had to stop and let her be.
I also love the twist on the love triangle trope. But what really hooked me was the insight to a small town in a state that I’d heard of but never visited. The inclusion of holidays like Mardi Gras with an explanation of its significance to that area of the south. I also loved the diversity of characters whether it was race, sexual orientation or age.
Most of all, I love the romance. I loved that it was slow building but not too slow. That it was hot and heavy yet mysterious. Also, real life obstacles were thrown their way and they found themselves along that journey. And finally that they found a way to each other organically and not the fantastical way that most contemporary romances showcase.
I will say though, it was easy to forget certain side characters, especially if you put the book or in my case phone down and then picked it back up again. I often found myself googling or wiki-ing (is that a word?) certain names.
All in all it was a good book! One I see myself picking up again in the future.