True Blue Reviews

School Library Journal TrueBlue_C

“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


“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

Kirkus Reviews

“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.”

Canadian Children’s Book News

“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.”

CM Magazine

“Ellis has done a first-rate job of putting friendship under the literary microscope”

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“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.”
—Karen Huenneman

CBC Radio

“The kind of great YA literature that you need people to read and discuss….powerful”
—Ken Setterington, The Next Chapter

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Winnipeg Free Press

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

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McNally Robinson

“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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Rachel’s Reading Timbits

“This is a fast-paced and thought-provoking read, and one that will generate lots of interesting questions for discussion both in and out of the classroom for tweens and teens.”

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Ellis has created a real story about young people we may know and given us much to ponder about choices made. Brilliant.”
—Helen Kubiw

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Amy’s Marathon of Books

“…what I liked about Ellis’ challenging character is that her actions made me think hard about how I would act in the same situation…I’d recommend True Blue for young to mid teen readers.”

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“You know how the female praying mantis bites the head off of the male? That was one of Casey’s favorite things. As a future entomologist, she adored insects. She even copied the head chomp with a little hand signal. The signal meant that someone was really getting on your nerves, and you’d really love to just stop them in their tracks. That was before the murder trial…

…Not many books for teens fall into the genre of psychological thriller, but True Blue definitely has the chops to be a riveting, disturbing page-turner.”
—Craig Graziano

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Ten Stories Up

“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.”
—Lindsey Carmichael

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Monica Kulling

“TRUE BLUE is gripping and suspenseful, and its surprise ending will leave readers demanding that Deborah Ellis write another mystery.”

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