Ji Strangeway’s Red as Blue examines the lives of teen girls going to school at Paradise High, which is anything, but paradise to many of the students there. June Lusparian is a loner who has never felt connected to anyone around her, until she meets Beverly Enright. These two girls are part of two very different worlds and are surprised by the relationship that begins to blossom between them.
June has a heart full of music and one day finally manages to find a guitar. This moment of happiness is one of very few that she actually experiences because of the bullying and turmoil that take place daily at her high school. There are fights and one of her classmates even dies while she is in the room. Within all of this darkness, Beverly happens to see June and is instantly smitten. When she sees her during cheerleading practice Beverly can’t pull her eyes away from the lone girl in the thick trench coat. June finds herself opening up to this popular girl and the two of them begin working through a number of different challenges and changes. June has always known she liked girls, but she has never allowed herself to open up to another person or shared her musical talent. Beverly has been going through her own questioning journey and when she meets June she wonders if she really is gay. As they grow closer Beverly and June are forced to deal with not only the challenges of high school, but loses they never expected.
Strangeway creates a story that shows the intense moments of light and darkness that happen throughout someone’s life by focusing on a few months in the lives of two young women who are trying to figure out who they are. June acts as the perfect representation of someone who doesn’t fit in and is just struggling to find peace with herself. Her story is often plagued by darkness, but she finds moments of light through Beverly and in her music. With Beverly we are shown the world of popularity and how a life that might appear bright can be plagued by unexpected darkness. She has been struggling with her closest friend, Kimberly, who slowly becomes more and more wicked toward her, and when she meets June she finds someone she can relate to. Their love begins to grow, but even when they are happy the world around them does not suddenly become bright and happy. Strangeway creates a story that pulls at your heartstrings and will show you how complex and difficult life can be. Her characters are multifaceted and show how much change can take place over a short period of time. Red as Blue is a fantastic read and I strongly recommend it.
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