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Silhouetted by the Blue

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  418 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Seventh-grader Serena Shaw is trying to keep up at school while rehearsing for the lead role in the spring musical and dealing with a father so "blue" he is nearly catatonic. With the aid of a not-so-secret admirer as well as a growing sense of self-confidence, she faces the challenges of caring for herself and her ball-of-charm younger brother, all while attempting to lea ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published July 19th 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  418 ratings  ·  63 reviews

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Jul 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: k-fic-post1948
rating: 3.5

Father is depressed and suicidal. Serena is in middle school. Mother died in an auto accident 18 mos before the story starts. 6-yr-old Henry needs attention. Lots of responsibility falls on Serena's sturdy shoulders. She does the best she can, but that's not necessarily the best for her father, her brother, or even for herself.

Characters are Afro-American but the issue of race is not central to the story.

Author lives in Denver.
Sep 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
A great book about an Issue (actually, more than one Issue) that really shows how Issues (in this case, a mother's death and a father's downward spiral into depression) affect every aspect of a girl's life (relationships with friends and with her little brother, her role in the school musical) while keeping those aspects realistically relevant. It felt like a real slice of a girl's life at a moment of crisis. I especially appreciated how she didn't react to everything perfectly--she lashed out a ...more
Jan 02, 2012 rated it liked it
I'm a little torn about this one. It's a strong tale, with believable characters. I loved Serena, she is strong and weak at the same time and I think child readers would root for her and be glad they are not her at the same time. Sometimes I think the dialog was reaching too hard to be "on point" but I'd like to know what kids would think - I think the author got it pretty close.
Susan Dove Lempke
Apr 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
A 7th grade girl tries to keep things together at home as her father is incapacitated by depression. The main character has a tart, down-to-earth personality that keeps the book from being gloomy. There's much to like but the ending is a little too tidy.
Daisy Barragan
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Serena Shaw is a seventh-grader who already has multiple responsibilities including taking care of her young brother Henery, paying bills, does grocery shopping, and makes sure her dad takes his ani-depressants. Her mother passed away in a car crash 18 months ago and her father's depression keeps getting worse and worse leaving her to provide for the family. Meanwhile that's going on she still has to balance out her school work but still wanting to do for what she loves which is acting and audit ...more
Kiara Parks
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book and that's why I rated this book 5 stars. Serena is my favorite character because we relate a lot with the babysitting factor. The thing that made me most driven to her character was basically when her mom died she was sad but she still managed to take care of her little brother and her sick father. I also enjoyed the character Elijah because he helped a load, by doing her homework and by making sure that Serena was okay and she had someone to watch her little brother while s ...more
Joy Davenport
May 13, 2019 rated it liked it
life gets harder and harder for Serena, but because it’s a story, you know it’s going to work out all right.

I appreciated the racially diverse setting for this middle school novel: normal kids struggling through difficult situations. Oh, and the kids have brown and light brown skin. (P. 8)

I would have liked to see a stronger character built in Candy, the sweet friend who also lost her mother. But maybe it was more realistic that this 7th grader, stretched thin, would not
Savannah Day
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Silhouetted by the Blue is a realistic fiction book about a seventh grade girl named Serena Shaw who has just recently lost her mother in a car crash. Although Serena is handling her mother's death quite well her father is not. Her father has a bad case of "the blue" in other words he is in a deep depression after loosing his wife. Being that the father is very depressed Serena is forced to take care of herself and little brother Henry. All while being the role in the school musical. Will all th ...more
Shelby Kardon
Jun 22, 2017 rated it liked it
I think this book is a great fit for seventh grade. The protagonist faces challenges that some students can relate to regarding grief, mental illness, and the responsibilities involved in have a parent who isn't able to fulfill the typical duties and responsibilities of a parent. I felt myself frustrated for the protagonist as I watched the downward spiral of her father battling with the loss of his wife and a major depression. The book touches on mature subjects such as grief, depression, and s ...more
Sep 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Traci Jones does an excellent job of capturing the devastating aftereffects of losing one parent to a car accident and another to depression. The major character, Serena, is a seventh-grade girl who has been forced to take on adult responsibilities after the death of her mother and her father’s struggle with depression. Both major and minor characters are well drawn and the subject matter is dealt with respectfully.
Tracey Walsh
Jan 26, 2019 rated it liked it
This was good, but it didn't strike me as much as Traci L. Jones's Standing Against the Wind did. I can see this being liked by my middle school girls though. I will start recommending it and see what they think....
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this to my 7th grade students, who begged me every day not to stop. This book took me down an emotional roller coaster. It was written in a way that I felt ever feeling Serena did, even when I couldn't relate. My students, in the area I teach, identified with her more than I imagined.
Allison Renner
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, tween, diversity
As someone who struggles with “blue periods” and has been in relationships with depressed people, this book really hit home. It was very well-done and on point, while keeping its finger on the pulse of the underlying issue.
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed how the book tackles depression, and is relatable to theater kids everywhere.
Feb 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1-2017
Silhouetted by the Blue by Traci L. Jones tackles the topic of depression and loss as the main character Serena Shaw tries to hold her family life together after the death of her mom. Serena does a good job of taking care of her younger bother, going to school, staring in the play and more. For me, the characters' ages seemed off. Serena seems much older than 7th grade, her bother seems much younger than grade school. Finally, Serena's relationship with her friend Elijah also seems too mature for 12 ...more
Apr 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Serena's mother died more than a year ago, but things are still tough, especially with Serena's father still feeling blue. Serena's got a lot of responsibility put on her now having to take care of herself, the house and her younger brother. Now she's got the lead in the school play she wanted. But she doesn't know how she'll manage everything and keep up with school work and practice for the play.

Serena needs help, but doesn't know who she can turn to.

I read this because in 2013 I read anothe
Nov 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Serena’s mother died more than a year ago. Since then, Serena has been able to move on just as her mother would have wanted her to do, but her father never quite got out of his blue. In this standout novel, Silhouetted by the Blue by Traci L. Jones, the reader gets a glimpse at what life would be like to have a deceased parent and an unresponsive one. This book was full of emotion and made me never want to put it down.
Serena, at first glance, looks like your normal middle school girl. Th
Katrina Burchett
May 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
Serena Shaw is a seventh grader. It's been over a year since her mother died and her dad is suffering from depression or - as she calls it - the blue. She'd like to spend time with friends and focus on her lead role in the school play, but most of her time is spent taking care of her little brother and her dad (as best she can). She makes meals for the family, and she does the grocery shopping and the laundry. All she wants to do is live her life under normal circumstances and go for her dreams. ...more
 Imani ♥ ☮
Overall, I thought that this book was pretty cute. Pretty being the operative word. After reading Jones' other novel, Finding My Place, I thought that I was done with trying to read her work. I'm not saying that this was a very excellent book or anything, because it wasn't. It was just a nice, short read that kept my interest until the end. Although, if I am to be honest, the ending kind of sucked.

This is the story of a seventh grader named Serena.(Her age kind of threw me off, but whateve
Jul 10, 2013 rated it liked it
I liked this book, but it wasn't my ultimate favorite. I read it for the MO Truman Awards I probably would not have picked it up otherwise. This will be a good book for my MS students since it is a modern story and unfortunately a few of my students can relate to the frustration she is feeling when everything starts falling apart. As I was reading, I wished I could reach inside the book to help her. I wanted to yell at her dad to snap out of it and be there for his kids...they needed him. I am g ...more
A simply told but profoundly touching tale of a girl (7th grade) who is trying to hold her family together after her mom's death & her dad's fall into severe depression. Serena just wants a normal world, but instead she has to take care of her little brother & maintain her household, cooking, cleaning, laundry & all of it. When she gets cast as the star of the school play it all becomes too much, especially as Dad gets worse, not better. He spends weeks wearing the same pajamas & ...more
Oct 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Serena will be starring in the school play The Wiz even though she's only in the 7th grade. She lives with her dad and younger brother Henry. Serena's dad has a very bad case of the blues forcing Serena to take on more responsibilities at home. Living by the code of what happens at home is no one's business, everything soon becomes too much for Serena.

I loved Serena's voice and this story. This is the first YA novel I've come across that truly explores the topic of depression. The au
Jul 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Silhouetted was a touching read. It made me cry. I know what its like to feel blue. I have listened to my students talk about losing a loved one as well, and know that after a huge loss things change. Many times the person can feel as if there is no one to talk to or that people feel like they will catch the "dead mom" cooties.
The novel had many realistic moments. However, I don't like that the friendship with Elijah was pushed into a romantic relationship. I felt like she should have developed
Nyaira Rogers
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Serena had to take care of her brother while her dad was down in the blues and it took her dad a long time to get out f the blues. Serena is also still in school trying her best to keep her grades up. i think this is a lot for a teenager to handle even tho she does not let her friends in her business and that is one way she managed to keep her house in good shape and i say that because if she was to let her friends all up in her business the whole school would know and the school would start to ...more
Abby Johnson
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
"Take care of my boys, baby girl. Take care of them till I get home." That's what Serena's mom told her before she left on a business trip... but she was in a car accident and never came home. Now Serena's trying to deal with her grief while she keeps up with everything else - taking care of her little brother and a dad who won't get out of bed, schoolwork (her grades are slipping), play practice (Serena's playing the lead), grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning...

Serena's dad has "had the blue"
Oct 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: realistic
Ever since their mother died in a car accident, Henry and Serena's life has been going downhill. It's not necessarily dealing with the grief, but more their father's reaction to it - he has what Serena refers to as "the blue," or severe depression so crippling that he cannot take care of himself or his children, much less get out of bed. Meanwhile, Serena keeps plugging along. Her grades may not be the best, but she just scored the coveted lead role of Dorothy in her middle school's production o ...more
Mar 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
7th grader Serena Shaw is struggling with responsibilities that no middle schooler should have to face after the sudden death of her mother following a car crash. Serena has no choice but to step up and care for herself and her younger brother as their father spirals further into a debilitating depression. Serena more is added to her plate when she earns the lead role in the school’s production of The Wiz which could earn the school a much needed grant for the theatre department to continue. Kee ...more
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Serena Shaw. Seventh-grader. Older sister. Horrible at math. Even more horrible at Spanish. Made for a pair of ruby red slippers in her school’s musical production of The Wiz. That is, if she can get to practice on time, keep her singing voice strong, finish her homework, clean the house, do the laundry, make dinner and make sure her little brother Henry is taken care of. See, since Serena’s mom died a year ago, her dad has had a serious case of “the blue.” He cries all the time, refuses to work ...more
Serena is an extremely talented singer and lands the lead role in the school musical even though she is still a 7th grader. However, she is struggling to balance a lot of other things, including a younger brother who needs to be picked up from school daily, missing her mom who died in a car accident 18 months ago, and a dad who is suffering from severe depression. Serena needs help, but doesn't know how to ask for it. A touching and realistic account of how lives can be affected by depression an ...more
Mackenzie Macklin Mcmillan
Nov 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed how the author made Serena's life very realistic. I felt bad for Serena when she felt all alone the person who would talk to her about her mothers death would only talk about it, Henry was too young to understand, her friends weren't very supportive, her dad had terrible depression, her uncle didn't understand until he got there to see it for himself, and her grandma was too old to help. The lesson in this book to me is be appreciative of what you have because one minute its the ...more
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