cover image Ramona Blue

Ramona Blue

Julie Murphy. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-06-241835-7

There are two things Ramona knows: she likes girls, and she’s the responsible one in her family, especially now that her sister, Hattie, is pregnant. The girls’ mother left their coastal Mississippi town after Hurricane Katrina, they live in a trailer, and Ramona is juggling multiple jobs. As the book opens, Ramona is starting her senior year; with Grace, the tourist she has been dating, leaving, there isn’t much to look forward to. Then Ramona’s childhood friend Freddie moves back to town, and his grandmother adds Ramona to their YMCA membership. It turns out that Ramona has potential as a swimmer—as well as unexpected feelings for Freddie. In Eulogy, Miss., Murphy (Dumplin’) creates a place that feels deeply real, a Gulf Coast vacation town that’s racially and economically diverse: Ramona is white and poor, Freddie is black and middle class, and the biggest divide might be between the year-round residents and the summer visitors. It’s a great setting for a coming-of-age story, as Ramona realizes that she’s capable of more than she imagined and that some categories are more fluid than she’d thought. Ages 13–up. Agent: Molly Jaffa, Folio Literary Management. (May)