Publication Date: May 1, 2010
A haunting portrayal of the effects of mental illness on a whole family, A Blue So Dark is a touching, emotionally packed story of a teen trying to cope with her mother’s schizophrenia.
Aura is has a secret; it’s something that she’s desperately trying to hide from everyone. Her mother has schizophrenia. Aura has been trying to take care of her and maintain a normal life. Sure that creativity and artistic talent lead to crazy, Aura turns away from hew own talent and only outlet. As her mother sinks deeper and deeper into illness, Aura pulls away from all the people that can possibly help her, until she realizes that it’s all more than she can handle alone.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I started reading A Blue So Dark. The beautiful cover art grabbed my attention and made me want to read the book. But, it was the powerful writing that kept me reading.
From the first page Aura’s voice set the tone for the story. At times, I found it difficult to read, not because of the writing, but because of what was going on in Aura’s life. She tried so hard to put on a normal façade for the world to see, even when everything was falling apart around her. Several times, I wanted to yell at her teachers to notice that things weren’t right and that Aura needed help. At the same time, I wanted Aura to reach out and ask for help. I understood why she didn't, but it was still frustrating to read.
I like that at its core, A Blue So Dark was about family. The relationships between Aura and her mother and Aura and her father couldn’t be more different. Where Aura stuck by her mother through the highs and the lows, it was clear that Aura’s dad checked out just as things got tough and left Aura to deal with things on her own. It was very easy to understand Aura’s feelings towards him and his choices.
A strength of Ms. Schindler’s writing is that all of the characters were so well developed that it was easy to understand their actions and the reasons behind them. This was an emotional book, eliciting a wide range of feelings as I read it. Not a feel-good book by any means, it did give a very realistic portrayal of what can happen in a family when mental illness is present.
I highly recommend reading A Blue So Dark, it is a powerful book about a subject that is not dealt with often in YA literature.