Violets Are Blue
by Barbara Dee
Expected Publication Sept. 28, 2021
Advanced Reader copy provided by publisher
Goodreads SummaryTwelve-year-old Wren loves makeup—special effect makeup, to be exact. When she is experimenting with new looks, Wren can create a different version of herself. A girl who isn’t in a sort-of-best friendship with someone who seems like she hates her. A girl whose parents aren’t divorced and doesn’t have to learn to like her new stepmom.
So, when Wren and her mom move to a new town for a fresh start, she is cautiously optimistic. And things seem to fall into place when Wren meets potential friends and gets selected as the makeup artist for her school’s upcoming production of Wicked.
Only, Wren’s mom isn’t doing so well. She’s taking a lot of naps, starts snapping at Wren for no reason, and always seems to be sick. And what’s worse, Wren keeps getting hints that things aren’t going well at her new job at the hospital, where her mom is a nurse. And after an opening night disaster leads to a heartbreaking discovery, Wren realizes that her mother has a serious problem—a problem that can’t be wiped away or covered up.
After all the progress she’s made, can Wren start over again with her devastating new normal? And will she ever be able to heal the broken trust with her mom?
I am a huge Barbara Dee fan. I have read several of her books including Halfway Normal, Everything I Know About You, Maybe He Just Likes You, and My Life in the Fish Tank (see my review here). She provides upper middle grade and middle school readers with realistic, well-developed characters who face real and relatable challenges. Her books are page-turners that you just can't put down. Violets Are Blue is no exception. I am, and always have been, a very slow reader. It takes me days if not weeks sometimes to finish novels. I read this book on my first day of vacation and loved it so much I had to finish it that day. Plus, look at that gorgeous cover!
Wren faces an all too common problem of having to travel between the home she shares with her mother and traveling to see her father and his new wife. She lives with guilt over leaving her mother alone and the feelings of betrayal when she makes a connection with her new stepmom. Mom makes it clear that Wren is not to discuss her mother with her father and his new wife and does not want Wren to share anything about the time spent with her father. Dee gives the reader hints at Wren's mother's problem, which gradually gets worse until it can no longer be explained away.
This book explores themes of friendship, self-acceptance, family dynamics, and addiction.
I would highly recommend Violets Are Blue for grades 5+.
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