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Nothing but Blue Hardcover – May 7, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up-A teenage girl survives an explosion, but her memories are sporadic, and the haunting words, "All dead. No one survived. All Dead" are stuck in her head. She begins walking, trying not to think about the past or the future. Along the road, she adopts the name Blue and a stray dog that refuses to leave her alone. Blue is convinced that she must avoid people. She finds food in Dumpsters and bathes in ponds and public restrooms. Snake, a damaged young man, is one of the few people she interacts with; like her, he is displaced and trying to escape a painful past. He assists Blue in reaching the house in which she grew up, and it is here that she must finally face the reality of her situation. Chapters alternate between Blue's present and what memories she has of her past. But like the rest of the book, the flashbacks are written in first person, a confusing choice considering Blue is supposed to be suffering from memory loss. This would be a minor complaint in an otherwise engaging story if the abrupt conclusion, so lacking in credibility, were not such a disappointment.-Cary Frostick, Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VAα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

A girl walks along a road at dusk, disoriented and confused, seeking a home she barely remembers. Calling herself Blue, she embarks on a harrowing journey, eating from dumpsters, dodging the law, and struggling to piece together who she is and where she came from. Along the way, she encounters people who help and people who hurt, and collects a protective, somehow communicative dog who watches over her, body and soul. The story unfolds in alternating narratives marked “Now” and “Before,” and as Blue makes her way back home, we discover the difficulty of her family relationships, the boy who used her and threw her away, and the tragic event that ripped her from her home. With clipped prose of intimate detail and keen insight, Jahn-Clough crafts an authentically adolescent first-person narrative. The reader accompanies Blue on her parallel paths, discovering the truth with her as she reconciles her past and her future. With tight pacing, motley characters, and touches of the spiritual, this is a furious, illuminating adventure. Grades 9-12. --Thom Barthelmess
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (May 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618959610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618959617
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,194,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lisa Jahn-Clough grew up on the coast of Maine to a painter mother and zoologist father. She knew from a very early age that she was going to become a writer and an artist, and started making and selling her first hand-made books in 1990. She now has fifteen books published (picture books and young adult novels). Her upcoming novel is Nothing But Blue (Houghton/Harcourt, spring 2013).
Lisa has always been interested in learning so she did her undergraduate studies at Hampshire College, and went on to receive her MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. She then become a professor as well as an author/illustrator. She was writer-in-residence for nine years at Emerson College, chair of Illustration at the Maine College of Art, and taught at both the low-residency MFA programs of Vermont College of Fine Arts and Hamline University. She is currently a professor at Rowan University.
Lisa lives with her partner, the author/illustrator Ed Briant, and their two dogs in southern New Jersey and Portland, Maine.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By H. Millay VINE VOICE on April 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a beautiful and unusual story about trauma, loss and healing. A teenager finds herself walking through the countryside with nothing but the clothes on her back and some Life Savers in her pocket. She doesn't remember much, doesn't know how or why she is where she is, but she feels compelled to head East towards her yellow house by the ocean. She scrounges for food and sleeps in the woods or abandoned buildings. She meets a mangy, telepathic dog named Shadow who becomes her protector, adviser and companion. And she names herself Blue, which is how she feels. Whenever Blue tries to remember what happened or how she got here, her head begins to pound and she moves on. Shadow and Blue cross paths with all sorts of folks, and the chapters alternate between their journey East and Blue's memories of her life "before." Her history unfolds bit by bit, finally revealing (both to the reader and to Blue herself) exactly what happened to her.

Overall it's a small, subtle, quiet story - nothing shocking or outrageous, and the telepathic dog is as supernatural as it gets - but this book is so beautifully and tenderly written that I enjoyed every single (quiet) moment of it. And even though it's about devastation and loss, there's something so incredibly life-affirming about this story - from the kindness of strangers to Blue's personal transformation. Highly recommended to readers who can enjoy a small story that unfolds at a deliberately slow pace.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By OutlawPoet TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The premise is pretty simple. A girl who calls herself Blue is headed home. She knows that something terrible has happened, but she doesn't remember much about it. Just a few words that ring through her head. As she heads home, the book gives flashbacks that eventually tell the story of what led to her journey.

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This is a quick read. The writing is very sparse, each word chosen carefully for effect. And, for the most part, it works. My main issue with the book is that, although at first it seems incredibly dark and edgy, it just teases. The author constantly stops short of dealing with any real issues - either in Blue's journey on the road home or in the flashbacks to her past. Each time I thought the author was going to be brave and confront an issue head on, she pulled back.

Because of the lack of edge or any real substance, I'm not sure older YA readers will feel this one.

I will say that the storyline dealing with Snake and the train hopping was fantastic. It was detailed and edgy and I really wish the rest of the book had been that vivid and engaging.

I won't give specifics on how the book ends. I'll simply say that it was anti-climactic and unsatisfying.

I still give this three stars. The author kept my interest throughout - my only problem was that she kept me hoping for something that never appeared. Her writing seemed to promise a knife to the guts, but never delivered more than a soft, sad story.

*******Possibly Spoilery Edit Below********
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I came back to add another thought. About the dog. The magical, magical dog.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Neal Reynolds VINE VOICE on June 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
All we know about the young girl at the start of this YA novel is that she has a form of amnesia. And we also know that something really bad happened to throw her into such a state. The story is told to us at a relaxed, but steady, pace. Blue, as she calls herself, is a sympathetic character. Mystically linked with a stray dog she calls Shadow, She's headed toward an unknown destination. Slowly, we learn her story. It's a little difficult to accept that she isn't recognized as a missing girl in a nationally publicized search. Other than that, this is q quite good psychological nail biter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Miller VINE VOICE on June 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Summary:
Blue, or rather a girl that calls herself Blue, wakes up with a chant of "All Dead" running through her head. She doesn't know where she is, what happened, or what is going on, but she is hungry. She knows that all she has is what she is currently wearing and a package of life savers. The life savers are quickly gone and soon she is running. She just needs to go. A strange dog begins to follow her. As they continue to walk, their relationship begins to get closer. She begins to feel connected to him and names him Shadow. As they scrounge for food and shelter, flashbacks of "before" chapters help to add history to Blue. At the end, everything is revealed (which isn't a spoiler, everyone knows that is what is going to happen).

My thoughts:
I'm not exactly certain why I didn't get into the story, but I didn't. Part of it was the only aspect of the novel to grip onto is Blue. We see everything through her eyes and she isn't looking around much. She doesn't even really look inward because she is in pain whenever she tries to think too hard on what has happened to her. So, even though this is a very psychological novel, it focuses on the struggle to hide rather than uncover throughout most of the book. Is this natural and realistic? Yes! Is it something that pulled me into the character? No. That's not to say that it won't pull someone else in though. The writing is very well done. The vocabulary is suitable for young adult. It is not challenging, but it is enough that running to the dictionary on the phone is not necessary. Shadow has an interesting personality. I can picture him in my head much more than I can Blue, but that again is based on the POV. I knew exactly what was going to happen throughout the novel.
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