Rea's Reviews > Blue Sky Days

Blue Sky Days by Marie Landry
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Mar 21, 12

bookshelves: chick-lit, contemporary, romance, young-adult
Read in March, 2012

Full review can be found here.

I have to be honest as I start this review: I think that this is one of the most difficult reviews that I have ever written. Even in my own head I am very torn about this book. On the one hand, I did like the story and the message that it conveys, but on the other hand it was lacking something for me. But what, exactly, was it lacking? Well, I’m finding that I can’t quite put my finger on that. I’m going to try to figure it out for myself as I write this.

So what’s the book about? The synopsis covers that extensively. Emma, having always lived in her mother’s shadow as she strives for her approval, finally sets out to discover life and what she wants from it. So she goes to live with her aunt Daisy in the small town of Riverview and there she embarks on a voyage of self-discovery. She soon meets Nicholas and her voyage of self-discovery becomes the adventure of falling in love for the first time. But her summer happiness is doomed when Nicholas is diagnosed with cancer and Emma has to find new pillars of strength inside herself in order to be the rock that Nicholas needs to help him weather this storm.

I much preferred the second half of the story, but why? I think that the answer lies in the fact that in the first half of Blue Sky Days there is no threat in any form. There’s nothing hanging over their heads as the reader knows that the cancer problem is coming, but the characters don’t. It’s not even really the story of Emma and Nicholas falling in love as that happens right off the bat. It’s more a chronicle of what they did together that summer. There are two what I’m going to term “speeds”. Most of the time things were set on “play” and the reader would experience events as Emma lived them. Other times it was like things were on “fast forward” as Emma gave the lowdown on what they’d been doing until we’re caught up with her present again.

Because there was no threat to what was going on, to their happiness, I felt a bit like a voyeur standing at a window and looking in on these people, which in turn left me ill at ease. More than this, though, the physical interactions between the characters left me uncomfortable. Now, I consider myself to be a fairly touchy-feely person and I’m all about hugs and kisses (much to my boyfriend’s ever-lasting frustration!), but these characters took touchy-feely to a whole new level. They were constantly kissing each other on the cheek or forehead or hugging even when it was the first time they’d met. This may be a culture issue, I don’t know. Again, I just felt bordering on voyeuristic by the intimacy of it all.

I didn’t really feel the growing relationships between the characters at this point either. Daisy and Emma already had a close relationship before the events of the book even started; Maggie and Vince, Nicholas’s friends, didn’t really get much on-page time and the reader just had to take Emma’s word for it when she mentioned that they’d become friends during one of the fast forward passages; and I felt that the scenes between Emma and Nicholas were more a way of chronicling the events of the summer than really showing the evolution of their feelings as the feelings just seemed to be there as of the get go.

It was interesting to watch Emma come to find her own two feet with the help of these other characters but I found that my discomfort during this half of the story was often hard to overlook and the fact that for 50% of the book there was nothing to threaten their happiness meant that I felt that they had nothing to lose. Consequently, it was hard to stay interested at times.

The second half of the book really picked up. I know that some readers were reduced to tears when reading this half of the book as Nicholas has to fight leukaemia. Personally, I didn’t cry but I suspect that this stems from my difficulties connecting with the characters in the first half of the book.

Funnily enough this part of the story reflects events that took place in my boyfriend’s family just before I was drawn into the fold. We’re talking almost the exact same trials and tribulations as Emma and Nicholas and the same mentality on coming out the other side. It’s very true that such an experience leaves you with a very different outlook on life. There were a good number of quotes in this part of the book that really impacted me. The most important of these was something that Daisy says to Emma when Emma’s feeling close to breaking point as things go from bad to worse.
"You're going to give him all you have, just like you've been doing, and when you don't think you've got anything left to give you're going to dig deeper and somehow find more strength..." I loved this quote. It meant so much to me. I wish I knew how to add quotes to GoodReads so I could add that one to my favourites, alas I don’t.

This was a very poignant insight into the horror that people – friends and family of cancer sufferers – go through every day. I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt, though my experience was diagnosed as terminal so there was never a point when raised hopes were dashed as they are in the book. I think the most striking scene for me was when Emma climbed into her car and just broke down, she felt so powerless and that translated really well.

In fact, the author’s ability to portray these feelings (as several of the characters end up feeling like ships without anchors) was really admirable. She’s got great talent for bringing such emotions to life for the reader. Had I connected with the characters better, I’m sure that I too would have been reduced to a blubbering mess.

Emma’s dad also makes his appearance in the second half after having been more or less absent for the first half of things. He’s supposedly breaking free from the chains that shackle him to his selfish, unfeeling wife but most of this goes on off-page so the reader doesn’t really get to observe his evolution. I would have liked to have seen more or it. As it was it felt like it was a little too much in the way of tying things up with that bow of perfection. It didn’t help that I found the mother’s character very hard to believe. I just feel that had she really been jealous that her only child chose to spend her time with her aunt instead of her mother, the mother would have gone to lengths to get her back rather than just keep pushing her farther and farther away at each point.

So I find that I’m torn about this book. I think really this is in part my own fault as the reader for not connecting very well with the book. When I look at it from a distance, I’m aware that this book is worth at least 4 stars, but it just didn’t work that well for me. I enjoyed it for the most part but I wasn’t invested in it.

The message, however, is perfect. May we all strive to make every day a blue sky day.
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Reading Progress

03/17/2012
11.0%

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Marie (new) - added it

Marie Thank you so much, Rea, for taking the time to write such an extensive review, I really appreciate it, and I appreciate your honesty. In hindsight, there are things I wish I could change about the book, but I'm so grateful for in-depth reviews like yours that give me things to work on in the future, and will hopefully make me a better writer. Thank you! :-)


message 2: by Rea (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rea I have to thank you too, Marie, for giving me the opportunity to read your book! I'm very grateful! I wanted to be as honest as possible about the things that didn't work for me in the book but at the same time I didn't want to put the book down too much as I think it was more my problems than the book's - I hope I managed to find that balance. Thanks again!


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