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A Blue So Dark

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,148 Ratings  ·  212 Reviews

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

Paperback, 277 pages
Published May 8th 2010 by Flux
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”Sanity is a sonnet with a strict meter and rhyme scheme – and my mind is free verse.”
The relationship between mental illness and creativity is a subject I find both intriguing and provocative. I think I’ve long been fascinated with the idea of a type of symbiosis existing between them. After all, the concept of the tortured artist has become something of a stock image in our society, and not entirely without basis (see: The Sylvia Plath Effect, for example). It’s a fraught, complicated topic,
Nov 05, 2010 Kristi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I have to admit that the one thing that drew me to this novel was the gorgeous cover art, but the thing that kept me reading was the beautiful writing.

This is one of the most impressively written debut novels I've read this year. (And that's saying a lot because I've read a lot of them!) But it wasn't just the writing that was so striking... the characterization, the story... everything! It was... WOW.

Aura's story is definitely one that will stay with you. To watch her struggle so intimately...
Oct 12, 2010 Jen rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

"Schizophrenics have abnormalities of left or right brain functioning. The left brain )the center of logic seems to be most affected. Which means the right side, the creative side, takes over. And that's why a schizophrenic is like a child playing dress-up, afraid of monsters, living in a world of make-believe."

This book moved me. I'm talking "picked-me-up-and-hurtled-me-across-the-room" moved me. I may very well be biased, as I am studying to be a psychiatric nurse. Mental illness i
Nov 18, 2014 Sesana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that I read in gulps, reading great big chunks, but being almost relieved to step away. There's a very real sense of hopelessness, and Schindler is a good enough writer that it's catching.

On the surface, the idea that Aura is sole caretaker of her schizophrenic mother sounds a little farfetched. But Schindler has built a very plausible scenario: Aura's father is no help, because he's checked out of her life. Aura's mother is estranged from her family. Aura's teachers d
Melissa Chung
Aug 23, 2015 Melissa Chung rated it really liked it
Giving this book 3.5 stars. I have read a lot of mental illness books this summer and I can say confidently that this was the most raw of them all.

Last month I read Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. In that book you dive into the psyche of a teen slowly losing reality. It is heartbreaking to witness the slow decline of what is real and what is fiction.

A Blue So Dark, was so much more then just watching the timeline of schizophrenia. As the reader you felt the raw emotion of the past, the pre
Sep 26, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
What do I have to say about A Blue So Dark? The cover design is beautiful; its what made me buy the book to begin with. It matches the story, with the color of the water and detail of the title, perfectly. The title also drew me in. It sounded interesting and, obviously, dark. It is written almost lyrically, and I especially loved Aura's poems.
Now for the story. Aura Ambrose has been caring for her schizophrenic mother ever since her father left them a few years ago. The story begins with her re
al borland
Jul 08, 2011 al borland rated it did not like it
I don't like to give up on books, especially when I have gotten through worse than this.But it's come time to let this one go.

My expectations for this book were really, unfairly high. I stumbled across in on Goodreads while at work, started to read it as soon as I got home that day and it just wasn't magic for me. I've had this story in my head for a while now, about a young girl living the southern states and her mother is diagnosed with schizophrenia so when I read this summary, it was like I
Jun 23, 2011 Skye rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
This review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.

Aura has been taking care of her schizophrenic mother as she descends gradually into insanity since her father got fed up and left several years ago. Her mother eventually loses her job teaching art classes at the museum and soon thereafter, becomes completely catatonic, and Aura needs to figure out how to help her.

All the while, however, Aura is stifling her own creative abilities because her mother has shown her that art leads to insanit
Aug 05, 2010 Debasmita rated it it was amazing
I don’t know how I am supposed to start writing a review for this describe it in one word,I would say ‘WOW’!

To say ‘I loved A Blue So Dark’ would certainly be an understatement! Holly Schindler did a swell job on the book. From providing knowledge about schizophrenia to rooting the reader’s interest in the book from the very first page,Holly has been impeccable! From the synopsis itself,I was aware that A Blue So Dark is a different kind of book-a kind of book I am not used to reading
Jun 11, 2010 Kristen rated it liked it
Why I read this: The cover looked cool and it's a debut novel. I made the mistake of wanting a book because it was pretty.

Plot: Aura's mother is schizophrenic and she decides to take it upon herself to deal with it. Her father is hands off, never broaching the topic because he is busy having his own new family. Aura doesn't go to anyone, afraid of losing her mother completely. In other words, she ends up having to deal with her mother as if she was the child - not vice versa.

Characters: I feel l
This book was written in a way so dark, it was beautiful. I loved the story line of how Aura was dealing with her mother's schizophrenia. Throughout the book, Aura's mother syncs deeper and deeper into mental illness, as she struggles through her hallucinations. It was so sad to see Aura take care of her mother and try to piece her back together. I really liked the plot of the book because as Aura is searching for help, her mother's hallucinations become dangerously worse. I could really relate ...more
Lada Moskalets
Aug 30, 2015 Lada Moskalets rated it really liked it
Дівчинка опікується мамою-художницею хворою на шизофренію і водночас пробує зрозуміти причини, які до цього призвели і відмовитися від творчості, як ймовірного каталізатора. Попри досить передбачуваний сюжет без особливих несподіванок хороша психологічна повість на тему того, як нам страшно долати наше коріння. Досить детально описані епізоди хвороби і те, як вона руйнує особистість, але книжка все ж позитивна і має на меті підкреслити важливість любові і відповідальності, а не налякати читача-п ...more
Brea Johnson
May 19, 2014 Brea Johnson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
A Blue So Dark is one of those books that stays with you. What really that stood out to 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.

Lori (Pure Imagination)
May 18, 2010 Lori (Pure Imagination) rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lori (Pure Imagination) by:

I didn't really know what to expect when I opened this book. What I got was a incredibly engaging story about mental illness. No one wants to talk about these things. Not really. Most of us avoid mental illness like it's the plague. But what if you were like Aura? What if your own mother were the definition of mental illness? There's no avoiding that.

This story was terrifying! I felt all the emotions of the book right along side Aura. It was like a train wreck that you knew was going to happen.
Book Sp(l)ot
A Blue So Dark takes an honest and often painful look at schizophrenia through a teenagers eyes. Aura Ambrose has to deal with what a lot of fifteen-year-olds have to deal with: divorced parents, a dad who's not around enough, tough friendships and a tricky relationship with her mother--but in Aura's case it's all compounded (if not caused) by the fact that her mother's a schizophrenic.

In her debut novel, Holly Schindler does a beautiful job portraying Aura's mother's illness, the isolation Aura
Aly (Fantasy4eva)
How do I even begin? Just wow. The very first time I spotted “A blue so dark” I knew it was a book I had to have because it just seemed so different from anything else out there. I'm not very knowledgeable on the topic of schizophrenia apart from knowing the basics. Reading this novel has creating so much more awareness of this illness.

Aura is a girl who has had to grow up very fast - she is merely fifteen soon to be sixteen, and it has been three years since her father gave up on her and her m
Jan 07, 2013 Kandise rated it it was ok
Shelves: contemporary
Hmmm, didn’t care for it.

This was supposed to be one of those emotional reads, like The Sea of Tranquility or Hopeless, it was meant to be heavy like Drowning Instinct. The protagonist was dealing with some serious shit, but it fell short, so short in fact that I was mostly irritated with Aura than anything else and I was immeasurably unhappy with the final chapter. It was false and unrealistic.

Does Schindler know anyone with this debilitating mental illness? Because you don’t go from catatonic
Jul 19, 2010 xtina rated it really liked it
Quick disclaimer: this isn't really my type of book. I'm not usually into emotional sagas about illness, even in YA lit (I despised My Sister's Keeper, for example). However, I read a really great review of this book by Amanda at Another Book Junkie, so when I saw it at my local library I decided to put the past behind me and give it a try.

I'm glad I did. The book wasn't exactly a page turner compared to a lot of the things I've been reading lately, but it did hold my attention. It well written,
Ashlyn Rae (TeenageReader)
Jun 27, 2011 Ashlyn Rae (TeenageReader) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
All I have to say about A Blue So Dark is WOW. This book was amazing. I found A Blue So Dark after Holly Schindler added me as a friend on Goodreads. I read the description and I was immediately intrigued. I couldn’t wait to read it! When I finally got it from the library, I chose to take it with me on a Vegas trip with my family. (This was during the holidays in 2010.) I did NOT regret it. The plot was so unique and different, I couldn’t stop reading it. I loved how Schindler added a romantic t ...more
Nov 28, 2011 Christy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, 2011, drama
This book had a lot of potential. It tackled a hard subject - a girl deal with her mother's schizophrenia on her own while struggling with her own fears that she might one day become like her mother. The characters were interesting and unique, and the situation with her parents marriage and her mother's relationship with her mother made me want to read on to see how it all turned out. For the first third of the book or so, I was really enjoying it.

But ... what killed it for me was something stup
Angela  M
Jun 17, 2010 Angela M rated it it was amazing
Such a lyrically beautiful book. You know how sometimes you'll find a sentence that just speaks to you, and you want to write it down somewhere so you don't forget? Well, almost the entire book was that sentence for me. Holly Schindler just has a way with words, that draws you right into the story and won't let you go until you've devoured every last word. This book really touches on a touch subject, but it was handled in such a real way. I really felt like I was living Aura's life with her. I w ...more
Cass -  Words on Paper
Jan 11, 2011 Cass - Words on Paper rated it really liked it
Painfully slow. Really disliked it. Until...

Probably from page 100 onwards, I started to get a vibe that perhaps A Blue So Dark wasn't so bad after all. I would have given up on it, if I hadn't felt obligated to finish, and write a review on it; but I'm glad I stuck to it and got to the end, because if I hadn't, I would have missed out on something truly special.

One aspect I really liked was the characters. Aura is vulnerable, but puts on a brave front and she had a good voice all through to the
N.T. Embe
Aug 01, 2011 N.T. Embe rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who like psychology/mental disorders, or finding yourself in an unusual and beautiful way.
Recommended to N.T. by: Library
My first trip to a library again after ten years of not being in one resulted in a fantastic first read. This book is a far cry from the manga and other variety of books I’ve been reading so far, and I never imagined I would wander into the Young Adult section of my library and walk away with this beautifully covered book whose internal message and tale is so… intense and alluring. Considering this is the first novel ever written by Holly Schindler, there are only positive things that I have to ...more
Steph Su
Jul 09, 2010 Steph Su rated it really liked it
Shelves: debs10, best-of-10
A BLUE SO DARK is an astonishing achievement by debut author Holly Schindler. Aura's story is horrifying, enthralling, and touching all at once, and will certainly open readers' eyes to situations they've probably never considered before.

I have never read a book about schizophrenia before, but Holly Schindler writes these heartbreaking scenes between Aura and her mother with a conviction that thus carries into the reader, absorbing us until we, like Aura, cannot escape from the horror. This writ
Mar 29, 2012 Star rated it it was amazing
Aura is a high-school girl, who has to take care of her schizophrenic mother. Her dad abandoned them years ago, she has no other family, and she’s got to hide how bad everything is from her mom’s employer and her school. But she’s running out of excuses and has nowhere to turn. Aura's protectiveness of her mother and their situation proves her worth as an incredibly strong, well-written heroine. Her fear that she too will become sick like her mother causes her to make some reckless decisions.

Jul 27, 2015 Moshi rated it really liked it
"Scientists have discovered that the same flexibility in thoughts that leads to creativity can also lead, in some individuals, to mental illness."

An insightful read from the view of a 15 year old girl caring for her mom with schizophrenia. The stress on caregiver and helplessness is clearly portrayed. But to be honest, I was drawn to the cover of the book, it's gorgeous!
Some of the detailing was exquisitely written. Holly Schindler beautifully captured the anguish, shame, and love between Aura and her mother. At times in this book, I felt really depressed, but I also felt appreciative that I didn't have to live with someone who suffered from a mental disorder. I couldn't imagine how overwhelming a life like that would be.

Aura was a likable character. Sometimes though, I did want to shake her; however, given the circumstances I can understand why she acted the
Dec 21, 2011 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: YA skeptics, YA fans who are looking for something different from the usual fare
Officially giving this a 3.5 rating. I would rate higher and favorite, but it took a while for me to warm up to this one. In fact, I was almost finished when I really came to enjoy it. I credit this strange phenomenon to the incredible character development, which unfortunately, doesn't happen often enough-particularly in YA. Also, *POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT* the book becomes a lot less depressing towards the end. I ended up falling in love with all the characters, especially Nell, and in turn fell ...more
Patricia Mckelvy
Apr 30, 2016 Patricia Mckelvy rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
While most teenagers are worried about whether a boy likes them, if their hair is perfect, if they have latest fashionable clothing, Aura has other things to worry about - a mother who is showing signs of having a a Schizophrenic episode. To make it worse, she has no one to help her, her father having moved out and remarried a few years ago. Her father's absence and complete lack of concern leaves Aura to take care of her mother all by herself, even watching her through a window outside while he ...more
Mar 03, 2016 Elusive rated it liked it
Shelves: review
In ‘A Blue So Dark’, fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose is unlike most of her peers who are relatively carefree. Instead, she is shouldering the responsibility as the caretaker of her schizophrenic mother while keeping it a secret. Consequently, she’s unable to focus on her studies while her only friendship is adversely affected and she fights her urge to paint or draw because she believes that her mother’s creativity led to her disorder.

The author did a great job writing about how Aura’s mother, Gra
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Cover picture 2 34 May 01, 2012 12:38PM  
  • Lost for Words
  • The Beautiful Between
  • Dark Song
  • The Life of Glass
  • Sea
  • Losing Faith
  • The Tension of Opposites
  • The Deathday Letter
  • Tell Me a Secret
  • Freefall
  • Harmonic Feedback
  • Inconvenient
  • Where the Truth Lies
  • Dirty Little Secrets
  • See What I See
  • Grace
  • All Unquiet Things
  • Light Beneath Ferns
Holly Schindler’s work has received starred reviews in Booklist and Publishers Weekly, has won silver and gold medals in ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year and the IPPY Awards, respectively, has been featured on Booklist’s Best First Novels for Youth and School Library Journal’s What’s Hot in YA, and has been a PW Pick of the Week. She is owned by a Pekingese named Jake, and can be found working on ...more
More about Holly Schindler...

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“They say it's the woman's prerogative to change her mind. But that's wrong. Guys are the one who get to say, "You know what? I don't want to be with you after all." They get to say it after they've sucked all the sweetness out of you, just like those cheap, liquid filled wax candy things we used to get for Halloween. They leave you dried up, empty piece of wax, and head off to find somebody else who still has some sweetness inside.” 40 likes
“Sanity is a sonnet with a strict meter and rhyme scheme-and my mind is free verse.” 31 likes
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