Posted on April 23rd, 2012 by pajamapress
This is a beautiful book. I don’t mean the story, but the package. Congrats to the design department at Pajama Press: I was so busy admiring the fonts and running my fingers over the jacket that I almost forgot to read the book. But I’m glad I did.
True Blue is not beautiful. It’s gritty and bitter and sensitive and unflinching – both ripped from the headlines and totally unique. The mystery kept me guessing, and the characters kept me up late…
…Casey, full of faith and confidence. Stephanie, who annoyed me so much I caught myself thinking that Casey would have been totally justified in killing her. The teacher, Miss Burke, whose courage had me in tears. Jess’s mother, paralyzed by her own helplessness. And complex, conflicted Jess, who wants something she can’t even identify, and resents Casey almost as much as she loves her. Jess isn’t admirable, but she’s totally compelling. These people are worth your time.
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Posted on April 19th, 2012 by pajamapress
This intelligent mystery is a complete 180 from the author’s leprosy-in-India tale, No Ordinary Day (2011), but is similar in how its impact sneaks up on you…The unreliability of Jess’ first-person account becomes increasingly obvious as we learn the depths of Jess’ jealousy and the dubiousness of her morals. The mystery here is not just a whodunit but how loyalty and betrayal can rest along such a razor’s edge. —Daniel Kraus
Posted on April 16th, 2012 by pajamapress
Ellis explores the courage it takes to stand up for a friend in a town shattered by a murder. Jess’s best friend, Casey White, has ambition and passion. A budding entomologist, she seeks an adventurous life outside their small town. So when Casey is inexplicably arrested for the murder of a girl at a camp where the teens are counselors, Jess feels incredibly alone. The townspeople are quick to assume Casey’s guilt. While Jess’s mother (a woman with a mental illness) demands a call to action to release Casey from jail, Jess says nothing to defend her best friend to her cruel and small-minded classmates. Jess wants Casey to be exonerated and goes so far as to dream up an escape plan but, in the end, she fails to come to Casey’s aid and actually helps the prosecution build the against her. Ellis’s masterful novel makes every word count, thus highlighting Jess as a deeply conflicted, not totally reliable, narrator who is so afraid of losing the only part of her life that she values–Casey–that she doesn’t realize how much her actions have cost her. A compelling and moving read, True Blue is about the courage to believe in oneself and fight for what’s right, even when it is the hardest thing to do. A book worthy of any school curriculum.
–Kimberly Garnick Giarratano, Northampton Community College, Hawley, PA
Posted on March 6th, 2012 by pajamapress
“TRUE BLUE is gripping and suspenseful, and its surprise ending will leave readers demanding that Deborah Ellis write another mystery.”
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Posted on February 7th, 2012 by pajamapress
“Jess’s relationship with her mentally unstable mother is beautifully nuanced, revealing the faults and reasonableness of both parties without violating Jess’s perspective. Ellis creates complex adult characters as seen through the narrator’s critical perspective, a difficult challenge that many YA novelists fail, or do not attempt, to achieve. Finally, Ellis’s bold ending causes the message to resonate with the reader long afterwards.”
Posted on February 2nd, 2012 by pajamapress
“Known for powerful tales of social injustice in the developing world, Ellis here offers readers a flawed but gripping character study of teens in small-town Canada…. Jess—sharply insightful, but selfish and entirely lacking in empathy—may be a piece of work, but she grabs readers’ attention and never lets it go”
Posted on February 2nd, 2012 by pajamapress
“Readers will readily sympathize with Jess, whose life begins to spin out of control. But award-winning author Deborah Ellis brings much more to the character of her complex and troubled narrator, who may not be entirely reliable. As the events surrounding the final weeks of August are slowly unveiled, readers will begin to question the very nature of friendship and how one finds the moral courage to be loyal, no matter what the consequences.”
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Posted on December 15th, 2011 by pajamapress
“Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda. That could be Jess’ catchphrase, especially when it comes to the choices she makes with respect to her best friend, Casey White, a.k.a. Praying Mantis…Many reviewers speak of True Blue as a departure for Deborah Ellis from her issues-driven books such as The Breadwinner, Parvana’s Journey, and I am a Taxi, set in developing countries. But I see True Blue as a furtherance of Ellis’ writing into the behaviours of young when faced with hardships (whether physical or motional) in order to cope or even survive. The choices may not always be the best, in the eyes of the reader or an adult, but they are adopted and their consequences endured or embraced. Ellis has created a real story about young people we may know and given us much to ponder about choices made. Brilliant.”
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Posted on December 12th, 2011 by pajamapress
Check out Rachel’s Reading Timbits for a great review of Deborah Ellis’s novel, True Blue!
True Blue: An Engaging and Gripping Read