Bonjour loves! How have you all been? Life has been absolutely wild lately and I’ve been away for a bit, but I’ve managed to get some good book reading squeezed in between, despite the hours slipping through my fingers like sand. It’s also officially autumn, so expect to see some enthusiastic flailing! (Let’s not mention the fact that it is absolutely boiling where I live; if the pumpkin candles and lattes are out, it’s autumn.)
Here’s a book that I picked up for the cover, bought for the synopsis, and loved for the story. Hope you enjoy!
Author: Jennifer Mason-Black
Publishing Company: Amulet Books
Release Year: 2016
Genre(s): YA, magical realism
Blue Riley has made a deal with the devil.
After her mother, who was a musician, died of cancer, it’s just been her and her sister living together with their aunt–but her sister has run away, leaving Blue alone with nothing but her mother’s old guitar. Determined not to lose her sister forever, Blue meets the Devil at a crossroads, and she (yes, she) offers Blue a deal: her voice, safety, and possibly sanity in exchange for enchanted boots and the scavenger hunt of a lifetime. With her mother’s guitar and a bag slung over her back, Blue sets out on her journey.
She bounces from city to city, hitchhiking with people she’s never met and will never see again. If her mission wasn’t hard enough already, the stakes suddenly get higher: she cannot stay with anyone for more than three days, and no one–under any circumstances–can know her real name. Along the way, she runs into many others who are trying to find their way in life too and discovers that life is unpredictable, and so are people. Through dangerous encounters and leaving behind friends, with the devil appearing at every corner and time whizzing past her, all Blue can do is trust her boots and learn to love life, people, and let music work its magic on the world.
I read this book while I was on a roadtrip–rather fitting, I’d say, for a book that takes place in cars so much. With the trees flitting by outside my window, I finished Devil and the Bluebird in one sitting and spent the rest of the ride staring outside and just thinking about it all: about people, and how they’re never what you expect.
I adored the characters. Mason-Black crafts the cast so well that all the characters that appear–regardless of the brevity of their roles–are so realistically created that you can imagine their lives and appreciate the small taste of their complexity that you’ve gotten to read. (There’s also so much diversity among the characters in many aspects, which makes me quite happy!) Blue is also such a believable, lovely main character: she’s quirky and she’s smart, and she’s also confused and afraid. Her strife, her determination, her self-guessing, and subtle humour all resonated with me in so many ways.
This novel tackles a lot of heavier subjects: running away, religion, drug abuse, and homelessness, but ties it all together deftly with words that leave you reeling in their lyrical boldness. Devil and the Bluebird is also very much centred around music; music has played a large part in Blue’s life and shows up in the story very often. Even the way this book itself is written and just the overall feel of it felt rather like music to me. It’s the book equivalent of a good acoustic folk-rock song, sung with a rich, bold voice and deft fingers picking at a guitar, the kind you’d listen to while watching trees whiz by on an empty freeway at sunset… I’m not sure what else to say besides “This book was gorgeous.”
In other words: With the passion found in David Arnold’s Mosquitoland, a uniquely haunting voice, and just the perfect amount of magical realism, this Devil and the Bluebird is a novel that will have you thinking about it for days after you read the last page. It’s a story of loss, of grief, of anger. But mostly, it’s a story of hope.