A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler

Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talented artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura's dad left them. Convinced that "creative" equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears.

Wow. I've been wanting to read this book for a long time now. I've never read a book dealing with schizophrenia, and haven't read too much dealing with mental illness in general. There isn't that much out there in the YA world centered around mental illness, because its so hard to pull off. A Blue So Dark was an amazingly honest story about a girl dealing with her mother's schizophrenia. The writing was beautiful and real, the story unique.

This is such a deep, emotional read. And Schindler's writing was just so beautiful in this seemingly effortless way. She's one of those writers who take what people are thinking and then actually say it in this eloquent, gorgeous way. It made me feel in a way that so few books do. It took me along on this roller coaster of emotions with Aura. 

And Aura herself was such a fantastic character. Her voice was so honest and real. She was so brave, yet so scared. Such a strong character. I don't know if I could deal with the things she's dealt with. I really felt as though Schindler put me inside Aura's head. Even when I didn't like what Aura was doing, I understood why she was doing it. Like how she really truly felt as though art was a cause of schizophrenia. Everyone knows it isn't, but when you grow up with a schizophrenic mother who is an artist, that connection is a tangible link. People are always looking for someone/something to blame, so Aura blamed art.

I thought the mother's character herself was extremely well-done. She was like a child, and it was fascinating seeing her mind work. And seeing how her illness affected the people around her. Aura's father, who left when Aura was thirteen, Nell, Aura's grandmother, and most importantly, Aura herself. It's such a complex, consuming illness, each case unique. I thought it was all handled so well, and provided a deep look into this illness.

Another aspect of this book that I really appreciated was the romance. And how little of it there was. This book was not a love story, it was a story about a girl struggling to survive and hold onto her sanity in such an insane environment. I liked Jeremy, and while I wish that he was in the book more, I'm almost glad he wasn't. His role was important, and just showed so much about Aura. If I was in her situation, I wouldn't be thinking about boys all the time either, so I'm glad that she didn't get consumed by him and that he was more of a side character.

This book was just so complex. There were so many layers to it. Part of it was about trying to stay afloat, while it was really about going underneath the surface. There were so many facets to this novel, making for such a beautiful and complex contemporary read. A Blue So Dark is really YA contemporary at its best. Such a gorgeous read about life and just how in the end you have to draw what you see.



Lexie said...

Awesome review. I really need to read this one. I've heard so many good things about it.

Holly Schindler said...

What a beautifully written review, Marisa! I appreciate the kind words, and can see you've got a real knack for writing. Keep at it!

Marisa said...


Thank you so much. That means so much coming from you. :)