Author: Holly Schindler
Read Time: 3 days
Rating (1-5): 4
Tag Words: Mental illness, struggling daughter, creativity, artistry, scientific study, family, generations, mothers and their children
Aura is just like her mother, which means she’ll probably go crazy too. They are both ticking time bombs, one, waiting for an outburst, the other, waiting to combust. Art is a drug, a release, an addiction, heaven and hell on one canvas, together, bursting with color, sealed in pain, tossed aside in anger. These are the moments Aura captures, the moments she can’t bring herself to draw, if she does, she could be lost. Lost, to a Blue So Dark.
If you haven’t been hearing wonderful things about this book then you must be living under a rock. This is another positive review, but I will begin by saying it takes a certain person to appreciate this read for more than just another well-written YA Debut.
You have to open the pages ready with empathy, understanding, an open-mind, a bared soul and a heart for these women. Life has not been good to them, and more life is coming for them. There is no escape from a mental illness, especially Aura’s mothers sickness, and the one thing that is suppose to help is killing them both. Art is coming for them and they just can’t put down their paintbrushes.
This isn’t exactly a coming-of-age novel because Aura is already “of age” when we dive into life at the Ambrose home. She is having to try everyday to be more than she is an continue to hold onto her façade. Schindler writes with overwhelming clarity and truth, a brilliance you can’t hide from at times. Schindler volunteers that there is a correlation between schizophrenia and creativity, but leaves the reader to determine if the artist must succumb, if the daughter of an artist must succumb, to the dark side of brilliance. I will say this, I love where Schindler leaves things on that issue and I agree.
My only big sticking point was the cursing. This time my “moan” is more than just “I don’t want to read those words over and over and over again,” because this time I really feel like the character didn’t need it. I felt like cursing and Aura were two separate entities, the words tasted funny rolling off her tongue. I wish Schindler had come up with her own vocabulary for Aura, who already used the term “criminy” often. I think it would have made such a creative statement, something to really base your notions of Aura on. She just didn’t need to curse, chain-smoking, yes, I think she needed that, but the cursing was below her and took me away from the story too often for my liking.
So, if this sounds like a book you could put your heart into accepting, cherishing and understanding go and pick up your copy, I doubt you’ll regret it.
Notes on the Names: Great names; Aura is explained in the book, her mother saw a blue aura around her when she was born (a BLUE so dark, cool, right?!) and thus the name. Brandi is totally an annoying-step mom name, kudos to Schindler for it. Nell is a great old-fashioned not well known, unique name that really defined the character’s rough edges. Ace is a tools name. Ethan is a sweetheart. In short, I think Schindler really used names to her advantage and worked her genius well.
Thoughts on the Cover: I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for the cover process of A Blue So Dark. From a photographers stand-point, the cover is more than a book cover, it could stand alone as beautiful artwork, and that is such an interesting place to begin this novel. I really wish I could have been there, seen the mock-ups, the costuming, how Dahl and Schindler chose their model, where they took the photo, what editing they did. I am personally flabbergasted by the pure, “amazing” of this work of art. I want to know if I can get a copy and hang it on my walls.