A Life Less Ordinary
Sabrynne McLain expertly navigates the complexity of human emotion and experience in her novel When Red Is Blue.
Sabrynne McLain’s When Red Is Blue is a startlingly accurate look at the inner life of a woman whose mother is afflicted with paranoid schizophrenia. Deftly navigating the emotions felt by those who struggle through this on a daily basis, McLain writes with a raw and vivid honesty that draws readers in and shines a brilliant light onto the ways in which we can learn to let go.
Kate Faraday is a young woman living in small-town Michigan. Ready to move on from her painful past, she dreams of a life in California without the burden of her mentally ill mother and alcoholic father. Kate’s plans crumble, however, when her mother is found dead in a ravine, and she must come to terms with a childhood she can’t escape, a father who is determined to drink himself into destruction, and a town that has seen Kate’s difficult childhood unfold before their eyes.
When Red Is Blue follows Kate as she stumbles through the conflicting emotions she has over the loss of her mother, and the journey of self-acceptance and discovery that she must undertake in order to let her past truly lie behind her. Knowing she needs to let go but unsure where to start, Kate is an extraordinary reader proxy for anyone who has dealt with mental illness and the feelings of grief and despair.
Readers will find themselves sympathetic to not only Kate, but her mother and father as well, for the plights that they seem unable to control. When Red Is Blue is based on events from the author’s own childhood and young adulthood, and her unique perspective lends itself to the telling of the story, rendering it both rooted in reality and relatable. Receiver of the 2012 Trophy Award from the NNAAMI for “a book that has provided excellent understanding of the needs of young people and others who have a mentally ill parent,” When Red Is Blue is a book that will stay with readers long after they have turned the last page.
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