Katie's Reviews > Bleeding Violet

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
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Mar 03, 12

Read in February, 2012

When Hanna shows up on her mother's doorstep with a suitcase full of pills and purple clothes, she doesn't seem too worried about the fact that she and her mother have never met. And that her constant companion is the ghost of her Poppa. And that she's leaving behind the aunt whom she most likely murdered - but she can't be sure since she didn't stick around to check for a pulse.

Hanna's mother doesn't want anything to do with her, but that doesn't stop 16-year-old Hanna from making herself at home. Together, they wager a deal: Hanna has two weeks to fit in and make friends in Portero, TX - something her mother thinks will be impossible. If she does, she can stay. If she doesn't, she'll be on the first bus back to Aunt Ulla's (who, by the way, is still alive).

After years of different diagnoses, the latest being manic depressive, Hanna is used to being the "freak" in her class. But she's never been to a town like Portero before. Here, she's just another teenage girl.

Bleeding Violet is another book that I picked up based on wildly adoring recommendations from Ari. It was even chosen as the book for last February's African American Read-In. In this interview with author Dia Reeves, Ari calls Bleeding Violet "fantastically bizarre." That's the best description I can come up with.

Our protagonist, Hanna, is faaaaaar from typical: She talks with ghosts and a wooden swan, is completely unafraid of suicide, uses sex to make allies, and wears only the color purple. That last one seems pretty normal in comparison now, right? When she shows up at her mother's house, whom she's never even met, and just walks right in in the middle of the night and starts making grilled cheese sandwiches, Hanna can't understand why Rosalee isn't happy to see/meet her.

But while Hanna is pretty bizarre in her own right, Dia Reeves has created something even more strange in the town of Portero, TX. This town is full of monsters, hidden doors, magical keys, possessed people, and a mayor who isn't afraid to put a curse on you - even after you're dead.

Using Portero as a backdrop, Reeves tackles intense themes like mental illness, abandonment, and death. Sex and race also play a role in this story. At one point Hanna comments, "I'm sorry. I can't believe I asked you that. I hate it when people ask me that [What are you?]." When her friend responds, "Why would they ask you?" Hanna replies, "Because I'm biracial. People look at me and can't figure me out, so they ask, 'What are you?' Like I'm a whole other species."

From my point of view, the primary theme of the novel was finding one's self - Where do you fit in your family? Where do you fit in your town? Where do you fit in the world in general? These are all questions that teens will quickly connect with, and Reeves' wild world of ghosts, magic, and monsters will help to make this book an easy sell.

Can I say that I truly enjoyed Bleeding Violet? Well, no. Hanna was just a little too intense for me to ever really connect with her. But did I ever consider not finishing her story? Absolutely not. Bleeding Violet is unlike anything I've ever read, and there's not a doubt in my mind that many, many teens will love this book. **I would not recommend this book for any students younger than high school.

Dia Reeves is a school librarian and reading her FAQ page was just as entertaining as reading her debut novel. I highly recommend it!
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