A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler
Aura has a secret that is getting harder and harder to keep. Her mother is suffering from schizophrenia and has become Aura’s sole responsibility now that her father has remarried and started a new family. Aura must make sure her mother goes to job as an art teacher and tries to monitor her through the window. But her mother is slipping further and further away, into her own world of delusions, fear and suspicion. As if that isn’t complicated enough, Aura has other personal issues. Her best friend just had a baby and can’t be as supportive as she once was. She has fallen for a skateboarding boy but can’t seem to put two words together around him. To top it all off, she has started to work for her grandmother, who doesn’t know who Aura is. As Aura tries to save and protect everyone around her, who is saving her?
This book is an honest and brutal portrayal of mental illness and the toll it takes upon the caregiver, in this case a teen who just wants to be normal. A large piece of the tension here is the relationship between mother and daughter, which teeters, tips and overturns. There is such a sense of betrayal and loss in their relationship, powerfully combined with dread and fear. Aura sees herself in her mother’s illness, certain that she too will eventually succumb to schizophrenia. She believes it is tied to the artistic talent that both she and her mother have, so she tries to turn her back on art.
Aura is a well-drawn protagonist trying to cope with an impossible situation and fighting to keep up the pretense that nothing is wrong. She is by turns in denial about the situation and drowning in it. She is a strong, amazing character who is resilient and refuses to stop fighting for her mother and herself.
Highly recommended, this book is dark, deep and haunting. It speaks from the heart about matters that are too often hidden or whispered about. Appropriate for ages 14-17.
Reviewed from copy received from Flux.