May 3, 2015

Book Review: A Different Blue by Amy Harmon

A Different Blue
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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I’ve been eyeing this book for a long while but never made a move to put it on any of my monthly reading lists. I don’t know why, though. Maybe because the first time I saw the cover, it gave away something like heavy and rather dark impression (Which was rather silly now that I think about it…). I’ve been in the mood for some joyful reads lately and I knew somehow that A Different Blue wouldn’t give me that without torturing my soul first. But this time I decided to challenge myself because lots of people said this book was really amazing and I wanted to find out why.
Beautiful didn’t even cover what I thought about this book. It’s definitely not a romance. It’s so much more than that. It mainly told a story about life, about people with their bitter pasts and how each way they dealt with it, changed the life afterward. It’s about overlooking your past no matter how bad they were and stop labeling yourself with anything because doing that only meant limiting yourself from life’s offer of possible constant-changes.
“You all have a story. It’s been written up to this point, to this very second. And I want to know that story. I want to know your history. I want you to know it.”
(Chapter I, A Different Blue)
Blue Echohawk didn’t know anything about her past except of the fact that she was clearly a very unwanted kid. What was it called of two-year-old kid abandoned in someone’s truck with only a blue blanket as the company if not ‘unwanted’? Blue knew very little of anything that should have been one’s basic identity. No information about her real parents’ whereabouts or even just simply their names. She wasn’t sure her own age. She didn’t even know whether Blue Echohawk was her real name. Unlike other kids who could recite very well who they really were, Blue had no idea what to say when being questioned about all those things. It was as if she only had blank pages for all those years she’d had in the past. As if the name of Blue Echohawk never made it to the book of history of people.
“What if what you believe about yourself or about your life is simply a myth that is holding you back?”
(Chapter II, A Different Blue)

Raised by a drifter who was kind enough to put her under his wings but was not good enough to stay as a permanent citizen in certain town, she ended up entering school late. 19 years-old (Or maybe it was 20 years-old?) Blue was just a senior in high school. This fact itself already made people absentmindedly giving her side glances everywhere she goes. A girl with too much number on her shoulder, who preferred boys’ companies than girls’, who loved to wear too much make-up and tight jeans. That was more than enough for Blue to earn the worst title a girl could ever have in high school. Or at least that’s what they believed about her. Blue had no intention to defend herself to all the names they called her. After all, it would be a stupid lie if she said she didn’t believe in what they said. If Blue said she wasn’t all that, it would be like believing a myth.

“Now I want you to take one moment from your life. A moment where the dye was cast, where you crossed your metaphorical Rubicon and you couldn’t go back. […] For better or worse, how did it affect the direction of your story?”
(Chapter III, A Different Blue)
Since the day she was left parentless, Blue had been living with a drifter named Jimmy Echohawk. Even though he was such a quiet man, for the first time in her life Blue felt contained. Jimmy had succeeded in being a replacement for her absentee parents; teaching her how to live; helping her to find a reason to keep alive. If Blue was a compass, Jimmy was definitely the north. But one day everything had changed. Even though ‘alone’ wasn’t a new word to Blue, this time it shredded her life into confetti. Because this time, she knew exactly that who she’d lost was the one who she needed the most.
“What beliefs keep you moving forward? What beliefs define you?”
(Chapter VI, A Different Blue)
Losing the only hope she got, Blue had changed into a different person. A different Blue. Gone now the north where her needle was supposed to go in the end every time. Blue was no more that little blackbird Jimmy had raised and taught to live in the bright side. She was the blue bird with dazzling beauty in the surface ―that always made her the center of attention― yet dull in the inside.
“Things are rarely what they seem. What is the truth beneath the surface, beneath the apparent facts?”
(Chapter VII, A Different Blue)
It was easier to let people define you when they obviously had no intention to listen to your words. Blue was defined as trouble, a mess, a trash, an unimportant thing by her classmates. She acted like one too just to keep them at a distance. Just so they couldn’t find the truth beneath the surface. The lonely, scared, insecure girl she was.
“If you predict your future based on your past, what does your future look like?”
(Chapter XII, A Different Blue)
When people called her trouble, they put a label on her. When she believed that she was something, she put a label on herself. Those labels soon would fill every space available in her face, making it difficult for people to see the truth in her eyes and difficult for her to see what future offered more for her life. Labels were just going to be a bunch of things that people forced her to be and things that she wanted to be. Blue Echohawk’s life might be just a myriad of miserable moments. But just because her life earned that label, should her future mirror it too?

Oh goodness… I have a lot to say about this book I don’t even know where to start!
This story is brilliant! Every word was written very beautifully with deep meaning in each spell. I loved how the plot flowed naturally, how Ms. Harmon told the story of Blue in the reference of school lecture of History. It was very neat and created quite strong chemistry among each event. Blue had a strong character. She was marred by unfortunate childhood in which she was abandoned at a very young age. Growing up she lost herself to public judgments that cruelly labeled her with negative names. She learned to ignore them and numb herself from feeling the real pain inside. And then she met Darcy Wilson (Mr. Darcy!!), her History teacher who later being the first person who was willing to learn about the truth beneath the bunch of labels. Through his lessons, Wilson led Blue to take gradual steps to rewrite the history of her life.
“[…] we all feel like nobody. We all feel like we are on the outside, looking in. we all feel scattered. But I think it’s that self-awareness that actually makes us somebody. And you are definitely somebody, Blue. You may not be a work of art, but you are definitely a piece of work.”
(Chapter V, A Different Blue)
When things got harder, that’s when she decided to put a halt to all her bad behaviors. Blue experienced her redemption one evening the moment she heard the melody of Wilson’s violin in the dark hallway of school. This was such an emotional scene that got me crying my first tears for A Different Blue. And then when she thought everything’s going to be alright after the redemption, her hope was once again tested. I loved seeing Wilson’s consistency in keeping Blue stay in the redemption path. He constantly reminded her to take a careful step in her life in order not to gain any regret in the end.
“Some moments you don’t get back, Blue. You don’t want to spend a lifetime wondering about those moments you didn’t seize, about the things you should have done but were too scared to do.”
(Chapter XIII, A Different Blue)
He showed Blue that nothing was impossible to do especially when you’re about to write your first word on a new sheet of your life. He introduced Blue to options and possibilities available around her. He let her grow her belief and hope again. I cried a lot reading this book. Somehow my wariness of gaining a heavy feeling while reading this book ceased away. I found myself totally focusing on Blue’s life struggles. She’s a really really strong girl. I was constantly mesmerized by the way she took every decision. It wasn’t all sweet and rainbows. There was hard decision, hurtful, sacrificial, where she found herself constantly feeling wary whether it was good or a bad one. She was amazing. Despite the unfortunate past she had, Blue managed to stop the repeating dark cycle on her phase. There was something in her heart that remained good, still. There was one scene (besides the redemption scene) that has left a really deep mark in my heart. It began from the end of chapter 20 until the end of chapter 21. Though I was sure I couldn’t stop crying all the way until the next 2 chapters…
The way Ms. Harmon built the story, putting each detail in line, created a very well-plotted tale. How she opted for a slow pace for one thing and a steady one for the other thing, how she created every character with such a realistic personalities and always managed to lead the readers to see their bright sides… it’s all perfect in a way it changed my way of seeing life. It’s been a while since I found a book that made me feel this way. Blue Echohawk had something that I’m sure everyone could relate to with things in their life. Not necessary the bitter past or the certain problem she struggled to deal with. It was something in the way life had touched her, given her a taste of losing, failing, and standing on the edge of a cliff again and again. And we got to learn how she dealt with all of that in an unwavering way because nothing’s impossible in life as long as we believe it is. Oh and I just loved what Ms. Harmon did with the side characters. There was this side character named Manny that even though he appeared only in a few scenes, that very scenes actually meant so deep.
Wilson was really a true gentleman until the end. It’s just so damn beautiful how their relationship built-up slowly innocently in a very mature way (okay this is confusing…). I meant because it was not commanded by lust, it’s purely built up from sincere feelings of both parties and they both understood each other deeply.
“Blue. Whatever we learn will only make me love you more. You’re right. I know too much. And because I do, there isn’t anything anyone can say that will make me doubt you or the way I feel about you.”
(Chapter XXVII, A Different Blue)
Wilson was a funny guy and very mature too. And oh mother father, just how many men still have a personality like him nowadays? Who’s so damn patient, who doesn’t put physical attraction as top priority in their relationship? I swear I’ve fallen in love with Wilson the moment he said this…
“Someday… you will want me because you love me, not because you’re lost, not because you’re desperate, not because you’re afraid. And that’s the goal.”
(Chapter XXVIII, A Different Blue)
The ending was an HEA in a realistic way (you know, the not-everything-ended-up-happily-ever-after-but-some-did-and-it-was-fine-anyway kind of HEA). I loved this, though!
This was my first time reading Ms. Harmon’s book and I definitely would rush to get every book of hers after this. Dude, just how glad I am that I decided to pick this book to wrap my March reading list up :)

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.


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