True Blue cover

By Deborah Ellis

True Blue

The darker side of a friendship is portrayed by Jess, a seventeen-year-old who struggles to find the moral courage to remain loyal to her best friend Casey who has been accused of murdering an eight year old girl at summer camp. The town becomes a media circus and the pressure’s far too great for Jess to cope.

A person doesn’t have to do anything important to get recognition anymore; it’s enough to know someone who does. Parasitic fame. Casey was more than just a dependable camp counselor dedicated to her little buddies in Cabin Three. She was a brilliant student looking forward to a scholarship and a future career in entomology. Casey wasn’t the kind of girl who would be stuck in a town like Galloway the rest of her life. She was really going places. And nobody knew this better than Jess, Casey’s best friend.

So how could a girl like Casey be arrested for the murder of a young camper under her care… Jess believes her friend is innocent and that the real killer will be caught; but in the meantime, she finds herself the reluctant center of attention. After all, she was also a counselor in Cabin Three. Jess must know something…right? 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.

Available In

Paperback / softback

Ages 12-15
ISBN: 978-0-9869495-0-0
List Price: $14.95 CAD / $14.95 USD
Paperback / softback
Trim Size: 5.50 x 8.00 inches / 13.97 x 20.32cm
Pages: 240

Distributed in Canada by University of Toronto Press

Distributed in the U.S. by Orca Book Publishers

Carton Quantity: 26


Ages 12-15
ISBN: 978-0-9869495-3-1
List Price: $19.95 CAD / $19.95 USD
Trim Size: 5.77 x 8.33 inches / 14.6558 x 21.1582cm
Pages: 240

Distributed in Canada by University of Toronto Press

Distributed in the U.S. by Orca Book Publishers

Carton Quantity: 36

About this book

Awards and Honours

  • 2012 Hamilton Literary Children's and Young Adult Award (Winner) (Canada)
  • 2012 Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award (Short-listed) (Canada)
  • 2012 John Spray Mystery Award (Short-listed) (Canada)
  • 2012 Ontario Library Association Best Bets Honor Selection (Short-listed) (Canada)
  • 2013 Bank Street Best Books Kids and Teens (Short-listed) (United States)



Praise for True Blue

2012 Hamilton Literary Children’s and Young Adult Award Winner

2012 Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award shortlist

2012 John Spray Mystery Award shortlist

2012 Ontario Library Association Best Bets Honour Book

2013 Bank Street Best Book

“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.”—Booklist

“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.”—School Library Journal

“Jess…grabs readers’ attention and never lets it go.—Kirkus Reviews

“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.”—Canadian Children’s Book News

“Deborah Ellis has again delved into the psychological depths of youth and produced a story that will force readers to look inside themselves and ask – really consider – what they would do in Jess’s situation.”—Resource Links

“Ellis has done a first-rate job of putting friendship under a literary microscope.”—CM Magazine

“With important moral issues, gripping suspense and a surprise ending, this is a must-read book for teenagers. Once again Ellis has delved into new territory with impressive results.”—Winnipeg Free Press


Additional Resources

Teaching Guide

Back to top