Schizophrenia at it’s best – A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler

abluesodarkA Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Published: May, 2010 by Flux

Format: Paperback

Source: Bought from Booktopia  

Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talented artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura’s dad left them. Convinced that “creative” equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears.


A Blue So Dark is one of those books that stays with you. What really stood out for me the most is its honesty. Brutal honesty. It was thought provoking, insightful and beautiful. It explored so many issues – not only of schizophrenia; but the effects it has on everything else. It looks at loosing friendships, broken families, mending relationships, poor socio economic area’s, teen pregnancy, health effects, stress. There is just so much packed into 300 pages that I’m a little overwhelmed.

A Blue So Dark follows Aura as her schizophrenic mother descends into a dark place. Aura is striving to keep her mother’s condition a secret, while still look after her. In turn, Aura goes through things no girl should at her age. We see her develop and learn from her experience, and I loved watching her mature as the story progresses.

In fact, all the characters were just great. Every single one was layered, individual and Schindler does not turn the blind eye at the bad stuff – she embraces it and makes her character real.

In saying this, there is an exception. A Blue So Dark included romance, but it was the most minor part of the book, you can hardly notice it. This is a great example of where the main character gets their act together before going into a relationship. And the love interest is nothing more than just that – a cute guy that pops up every now and again to remind us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. He gives us something to look forward to in Aura’s future. We really don’t know much about him at all.

Schizophrenia isn’t something I know much about, which is why I found this book really insightful. I had no idea what to expect or how the characters were going to react to the different situations posed to them. I found it really intense and I was shocked – actually shocked that some people live with this, like this. It was definitely eye opening.

I also enjoyed how art plays such a big part. I love reading about artists. It’s close to home. My Mum’s a painter, and I think my mind sways more to the artistic side at times. It’s interesting to see how Aura’s interpretation of art is tainted by her mother and her illness, and she begins to shun that part of her.

Not only does it talk about artists, but the whole book is an art piece. The way it’s written is beautiful. The descriptions were just enough to satisfy my need for visuals.

Plain and simple – I just really enjoyed this book. To the amount of issues it explores, to art, to descriptions, to being just a real, honest book that opened my mind to something that I once shrugged at.  I got really emotional towards the end, because there are still some loose ties. But otherwise, I was really blown away by this little paperback I bought on a whim. I highly recommend!





P.S – I just learnt that Holly Schindler is releasing a new book called Feral, that’s tagged to be like The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan. GIMME GIMME GIMME. 


15 thoughts on “Schizophrenia at it’s best – A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler

  1. I really enjoy reading books with mental illness, especially since Abnormal Psych was a favorite class of mine in college. I don’t think I’ve read any about schizophrenia before though! Thanks for the GR rec 😉

    Oh, and The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan? Freaky!! Although I’m still highly intrigued, I’ll admit.

    • This was my first book about schizophrenia, and it was so interesting, Kayla!

      It sounds positively thrilling, doesn’t it? Cannot wait! 😀

  2. I so need to read this book. I’m 100% hooked after your review! I don’t know much about Schizophrenia, except that I WANT to learn more. I’ve seen bits and pieces of it in books and stuff, but nothing really delves into it. I get that. You wouldn’t want to tackle such a big issue and get it wrong, would you? But I totally want to read a book that gets it right. And this sounds fantastically well written, too. BONUS.

    • Awwh, yay! That’s so good to hear!
      I feel exactly the same! I really want to read books that explore all these issues, but I get that sometimes they are hard to come across, because it would be super scary to write one and get it wrong. I was so intrigued by the portrayal of it in this book, mostly ’cause it looks at how art plays a role. So interesting!

  3. This just sounds so beautiful. The writing, the way it dealt with all those issues . . . ALL of it. Mental illness isn’t something that’s explored a lot in books these days (at least not ones I’ve come across), so it’s great to see a book tackle it and actually do it PROPERLY.

    Thanks for the recommendation 🙂

    • I was so captured by it. You’re right, mental illness isn’t done much these days. It would be a hard topic to write about. Though I really enjoyed this, not just for the schizophrenia side, but because it was just a great story.

      Thanks for commenting, Allie!

  4. Wow! Thank you for this amazing review! I’ve never read a book about schizophrenia before, but I definitely think I’ll have to pick this one up very soon! 🙂

  5. I bought this one from Booktopia as well and can’t wait to start it now. I love brutally honest books, so many in YA tend to shy away from anything confronting. Perfect example of diversity in books too, not just angst ridden but a character that suffers from a mental illness. Awesome review, I’m thrilled you loved it. Looking forward to starting it even more now.

    • That’s awesome! Honest books are great – they have an edge that some books lack. And yes! I didn’t even think about it being classed as diverse, but it most certainly can if you look at it in terms of mental illness.
      I really hope you like it, as well!

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