I really enjoyed this one. There has been a lot of controversy about it, I believe, because Ramona identifies as a lesbian then falls in love with a guy. In real life, sexuality is a fluid thing. At seventeen or eighteen, I wasn't 100% certain of my sexuality, so I see no reason why characters in books can't be experimenting and uncertain too. People change, and what may seem black and white one day, may not be quite so crystal clear a fews weeks, days or years in the future.
But anyway, enough about that. Because in reality, Ramona's sexuality and love life is only a small part of the book. Essentially it's a book about sisters. Despite being younger, Ramona feels responsible for her sister, Hattie who is pregnant and has decided to keep the baby. The family lives in a tiny, rotting trailer, all they could afford after Hurricane Katrina tore their small town apart. There is no room for a baby, let alone Hattie's baby-daddy who moves in.
Ramona works several jobs to keep things afloat. Their father works all the time and is barely present. Their mother left years ago and isn't much good at mothering. So if anyone is going to take care of Hattie, it has to be Ramona. At least, that's what she thinks.
Throughout the course of the book, a lot of people try to tell Ramon she's wrong, there are other options open to her. But Ramona doesn't hear them. She's convinced her future is to stay in Eulogy and take care of Hattie and the baby. God knows Tyler, the baby's daddy isn't up for the task.
Over the course of a year, all the things Ramona though she was sure of change, and watching her grow to realize her future isn't as grim as she might once have thought, is a real joy. Ramona is an engaging character, as flawed and real as anyone you might meet. And around her, the friends and family she lives with are also real individuals.
I was sad to turn the last page and forced to leave this little community behind.
But don't just listen to me. Here's the blurb:
Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.
The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.