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A Solitary Blue

(Tillerman Cycle #3)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  5,626 ratings  ·  351 reviews
Jeff Greene was only seven when Melody, his mother, left him with his reserved, undemonstrative father, the Professor. So when she reenters his life years later with an invitation to spend the summer with her in Charleston, Jeff is captivated by her free spirit and warmth, and he eagerly looks forward to returning for another visit the following year.

But Jeff's second summ
Paperback, 250 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by Aladdin Paperbacks (first published July 1st 1983)
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D. Though they seem like an unlikely pair- Dicey, oldest of 4 with a dad who walked out on them, and Jeff, an underachiever who lives alone with his scho…moreThough they seem like an unlikely pair- Dicey, oldest of 4 with a dad who walked out on them, and Jeff, an underachiever who lives alone with his scholarly dad- these two get together about halfway through Dicey's Song. Both stories are touching because these brave kids face terrible obstacles. Both teens- I hope- support each other, allowing the trust to develop, which has been very scanty in their lives up to now. (less)
Sarah They're better in order, but I think they do all work as self-contained books if need be. By chance I read 'The Runner' (which is a prequel) first wit…moreThey're better in order, but I think they do all work as self-contained books if need be. By chance I read 'The Runner' (which is a prequel) first without realising it was part of a series, then 'Come A Stranger' (spinoff novel) without realising it was part of the same series, so it was quite a nice surprise for me when I realised part way through 'Come A Stranger' that the two were linked! But it did mean I had some spoilers for the earlier books, so I would recommend reading 'Homecoming' followed by 'Dicey's Song' as the first two.(less)

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Charlotte May
"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Yes! The Tillerman Cycle is so bloody good! 😊

Book number 3 in this series moves us away from the Tillerman family, and we meet Jeff and his father. Jeff refers to his father as 'the Professor' and they aren't overly close, when Jeff's mother has finally had enough and leaves them behind, Jeff is lost. He quickly decides to just get on with things, that his mother's abandonment 'doesn't make any difference' to him.
Lisa Findley
Nov 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is possibly my favorite book of the Tillerman Cycle. As ever, Cynthia Voigt's story and language are beautifully interdependent. Jeff's growth from terrified little boy to self-assured young man is by no means easy or without twists and turns, and he reaches that point after heartache and several reevalutations of himself and the other people in his life -- so it's like real life, something Voigt writes about with assurance.

I also like A Solitary Blue because I first read it when I was jus
Feb 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, reviewed
I was too bowled over by Dicey's Song to write much about it. I'm bowled over again, and I didn't think that was possible with a followup novel, so I'm going to try - probably unsuccessfully - to chronicle a little bit of Voigt's skill.

I suppose the place to start is the writing. It's spectacular because every single word is deliberate. When Voigt spends three paragraphs describing a room, it's not because she thinks she needs to elaborate on its setting. It's because she's allowing tension to b
Dec 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
From my back door I can see a pond. Sometimes a solitary blue heron will visit the pond, a reclusive bird that stalks along the edge of the water. If you approach the heron, it immediately takes flight. I find the bird fascinating. Now I realize that one of the reasons I find blue herons so fascinating is that I read this book 20 years ago.

Jeff Green is like the solitary blue heron. He was deserted at age 7 by his immature and manipulative mother, and left alone by his emotionally distant profes
Feb 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful and sobering illustration of why isolation is so seductive in times of pain or brokenness; equally compelling in its call for healing through connections with others. This novel was probably the most genuine and nuanced piece of writing I read in my youth, and it taught me as much about character (both having it and lacking it) as any of the classics.
Lars Guthrie
Sep 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The third in the Tillerman Cycle and the third I've revisited in audio. It looks like there are no more in audio, which is disappointing.

It's the first in the Tillerman Cycle to turn its focus away from Dicey Tillerman and her family, and previews the way Voigt will interweave the different stories, for it is here we find the beginnings of a concrete 'Dicey's Song.'

That's not the only connection to the first two books, but this one is a far more stand-alone project. It tells Jeff Greene's story.
Apr 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Okay, after reading this book I was forced to come to the wonderful conclusion that Cynthia Voigt could do no wrong and she was, in all likelihood, a perfect author and perfect human.
Well, I nearly felt that way after reading through A Solitary Blue!
I never thought that any additional book in The Tillerman Cycle could surpass Dicey's Song, and perhaps this one did not surpass it, but it did come shockingly close.
In my thinking, this is one of the fullest and most richly resonant novels abou
Jan 28, 2009 rated it liked it
There’s a red “Scholastic” band at the bottom of the cover and a pretty silver coin that says “Newberry Honor Book” above that. You know what that means. Yes. Another young adult book. Kiss my ass; it’s what I wanted to read.

The book kicks off with Jeff’s mom, Melody, gone—having left a note to him about the work she has to do to save the world. Oh yes, hippy to the extreme. Then we meet Jeff’s dad and he was cold. I did not like him. Despite Melody’s abandonment, I wanted to meet her because s
Jenny Leiva
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I wasn’t sure going in how I would like this book since the story was no longer about the Tillermans, but it was such a strong story and Jeff and his dad were such interesting characters that it didn’t matter. Sometimes during the story I just wanted to shake Jeff (or the Professor or Melody) so they would change how they were acting, but since I couldn’t do that, I had to let them figure things out on their own. I was glad when the Tillermans came back into the story, but I was also glad that t ...more
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: series
I really did like this story. After-the-fact, it turned out to be a re-read for me. This story starts out with a shock and breaks your heart with wave after wave of uNina Gina be happenings, for me at least. I could not believe a mother could do what she does to her son in this story.

The young man and his father in this story really wrapped themselves around my heart. It was so sad in the beginning. It took a long time, but the story unfolded so wonderfully, and the characters grew into such won
Logan Hughes
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
I appreciate Voigt's commitment to making each Tillerman Saga book different, and I'm not opposed to switching off POV characters. Still, after two excellent books about tough and fascinating Dicey Tillerman, it's disappointing to be stuck with Jeff Greene, an extremely minor character in "Dicey's Song" whose only distinguishing feature is that he's always playing guitar on the green. Jeff's story also begins with his mother leaving him, which gives it a kind of samey feel right off the bat; but ...more
Daisy Johnson
When I tweeted about reading this book, I said that Cynthia Voigt was increasingly proving to be all that I want from a writer. I'd written about my fairly recent discovery of her work , a journey which had made me fall in love with her crisp and clean writing, so full of clarity and heart and texture at every inch, and I had realised that I would read more of her work. And so I did, for some things are inevitable and Voigt's writing makes me ache with an absolute jealous and love for it is perf ...more
After reading the other laudatory reviews for this book I feel a bit guilty for giving it only 3 stars. However, I just didn't find Melody to be a believable character. In the first half of the book I was very empathetic with Jeff, my heart aching for him, but the second summer in Charleston stretched my credulity too thin. I can't accept that Melody could spend two or three days with him in the entire summer and still conceive of herself as any kind of mother. Maybe I just have limited real-lif ...more
Xan West
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book reaches into my heart and holds. It always has, from the first time I read it, when I was quite young. It is the closest I have ever come to reading a character's POV and voice that matched who I was, and how I thought, and how I felt, as a child and I treasure it for that. I wouldn't call it my *favorite* book--it's too painful a read for that. But it is the book that reflects me the most, on the inside, as I was growing up, essential aspects of what my childhood was like and how I su ...more
Oct 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was not a book I read in childhood, but re-reading the first two in this series, which were childhood faves and are still really great, made me want to read this series all the way through.
Voigt is really good at writing about children and abandonment, and also about the complexities of family. I felt so sorry for Jeff, the narrator, but then felt really proud of him when he comes into his own by the end of the book. I was totally invested. And of course, even though it's pretty rare to fi
Elsa K
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another 4.5 stars. I didn't think I would enjoy this one as much as it focuses on Jeff Greene, a friend of the Tillermans. But I got so sucked into his story I didn't even miss the other characters! Can I just say Jeff's mom gives me the creeps? I enjoyed getting to see the Tillermans more in the end, but thought the story stood alone well without them. These are powerful stories and themes for young adults (and grown-ups too)! ...more
Katy Ann
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It is very hard to write a review for this book. It is like writing a review of a point in my life or of a person you have been. This is the first book I read that really mattered. Not an escapist book but a book that reached down and saw me where I was in life and said "you are not alone." I have been Jeff and Dicey and part of me will always be them. ...more
Nov 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
this is one of my favorite books of all time! I have read it over and over and never tire of it. I love the way Cynthia Voigt writes and enjoyed all the books in the Tillerman series!
Sam (Hissing Potatoes)
One of those exemplary books that, after closing the last page, makes you just sit and think and feel what you just experienced.

It is a journey through a young boy's life learning to hope and love, getting heartbroken, and healing. It is an up and down journey that I was invested in from page one and with Jeff every second of the way. Voigt has a singular gift for showing Jeff's thought processes, internalizations, and motivations in a raw but completely believable, realistic manner that latches
Amanda Baker
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a book of growing up, self-realization, growth and so much more.
The book starts with Jeff at age seven when his mom leaves him and his father. For most of his life, Jeff thought of how not to upset "The professor" (never his father) and just to skate through day by day. School didn't really intrigue him, he didn't do much else except what he thought would make the Professor happy. Until one summer when he was eleven. His mother wanted him to come visit. After an credible summer, Jeff t
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-fiction
This third book in the Tillerman family series kept me riveted! I loved "Dicey's Song" and "Homecoming" and had to read this next one also.

Jeff Greene has a dysfunctional family (in the years when the term was not widely used). His mother abandons him when he is only in the second grade, leaving him a note to find (that he can read himself), when he gets home from school. (If that shocks you, just wait... there is more). Jeff is left with a scarred, emotionally distant father and an upbringing t
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite books from growing up. I just recently re-read it and it still holds the same power and depth I remember. The vibrancy and nuances of the characters are so well done I can imagine meeting them in real life. Voigt’s character development and plotting are wonderful, much better than many of the books I’ve read in the past two years (and I’ve read a lot of books). I recognize there are themes in the book that are close to my heart so that may also be why this story resona ...more
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
4 1/2 stars. Beautiful, poignant, and quietly powerful. This exploration of relationships within a family (mostly dysfunctional) caught my attention and I read it almost straight through. This is part of a series of books about the Tillerman family, and I intend to read the other books. Although, ironically, near the end there are references to the Tillerman family, and I thought that was the only clunky part of the book. Their inclusion seemed out of step with the rest of the story. But, the wr ...more
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The book "A Solitary Blue" is about a kid named Jeff and how his life was progressing. This book talked about the Tillermans and how Jeff slowly started to meet them. "A Solitary Blue" is actually very amusing and it doesn't have to be read with the other books. It is a very good book in my opinion and if you are looking for something to read I would recommend this because if you find it enjoyable then you can continue with the other books that have some relation to this one. ...more
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am continuing my project of re-reading books I read as a kid during the summer vaca. A Solitary Blue is a solid entry in the Tillerman series, but I wished there had been more of Dicey and the Tillermans in it.

This books centers on Jeff Greene, Dicey's friend.
Kimberly Lavoie
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Solitary Blue is quite possibly one of the saddest stories I have ever read. The writing is solid, and the characters evolve in such a way that the reader practically folds into themselves to keep up. It is really the story of human tenacity and resilience, and the fragility of love.
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’ve read this book many times, and I still stayed up late to finish it. Really, that’s all I need to say, right?
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of my Newberry Books. Also one that I’ve checked out about five times, but never wanted to read it, so I kept letting it expire. I finally read it on a long flight across the world to Southeast Asia. It’s amazing what being trapped in tiny airplane seats and in airports for 25 hours will get you to do.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it once I got going. Jeff was a sympathetic character. It was painful watching how much Jeff ached for his mother’s attention. I loved watching his relati
This is a review tainted with my love and hate of this novel. At times I couldn't put it down and others I couldn't put it down quick enough and was reluctant to pick it up again. I really liked all the characters in this book except two, and the storyover all was great. The antagonist, Jeff's mom Melody, was a full-blowen narcissistic and manipulative witch like an evil stepmother of a fairytale. It made the end rather predictable and seemed over the top. The other character I didn't like was n ...more
Clara Ellen
Aug 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is not the kind of book I usually pick up, sort of a character study type book about a person dealing with family issues..and yet I am so glad I did pick this one up and read it. I couldn't put it down till I finished it and knew that Jeff, the main character, was safe and well and whole in the end with his loving dad and friends around him..
Reading this book I realized I was truly reading a classic, for the story came alive inside me and didn't let me go.
I love this young man Jeff! Even t
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Cynthia Voigt is an American author of books for young adults dealing with various topics such as adventure, mystery, racism and child abuse.

Angus and Sadie: the Sequoyah Book Award (given by readers in Oklahoma), 2008
The Katahdin Award, for lifetime achievement, 2003
The Anne V. Zarrow Award, for lifetime achievement, 2003
The Margaret Edwards Award, for a body of work, 1995
Jackaroo: Ratte

Other books in the series

Tillerman Cycle (7 books)
  • Homecoming (Tillerman Cycle, #1)
  • Dicey's Song (Tillerman Cycle, #2)
  • The Runner (Tillerman Cycle, #4)
  • Come a Stranger (Tillerman Cycle, #5)
  • Sons from Afar (Tillerman Cycle, #6)
  • Seventeen Against the Dealer (Tillerman Cycle, #7)

News & Interviews

Twists, turns, red herrings, the usual suspects: These books have it all...and more. If you love mysteries and thrillers, get ready for dozens...
125 likes · 29 comments
“When Jeff Greene was in second grade, seven and a half years old, he got home from school one Tuesday afternoon in early March, and found a note from his mother, saying that she had gone away and would not be coming back.” 1 likes
“He felt — washed clean, healed. He felt if he could just live here he would be all right. He felt as if he had never been alive before. He felt at ease with himself and as if he had come home to a place where he could be himself, without hiding anything, without pretending even to himself. He felt, thinking his way back up the beach, as if his brain had just woken up from some long sleep, and it wanted to run along beside the waves, to see how far and fast it could go.” 1 likes
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