Violets Are Blue -- New Middle School Novel about Friends, Family, Divorce and More!


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Today I am sharing Barbara Dee's newest novel. Barbara's novel seem to always capture the emotions and actions of middle school students. This one is no different. It is Violets Are Blue. It is recommended for grades 4 to 8.

From the Publisher:

From the author of the acclaimed My Life in the Fish Tank and Maybe He Just Likes You comes a moving and relatable middle grade novel about secrets, family, and the power of forgiveness.

Twelve-year-old Wren loves makeup—special effect makeup, to be exact. When she is experimenting with new looks, Wren can create a different version of herself. A girl who isn’t in a sort-of-best friendship with someone who seems like she hates her. A girl whose parents aren’t divorced and doesn’t have to learn to like her new stepmom.

So, when Wren and her mom move to a new town for a fresh start, she is cautiously optimistic. And things seem to fall into place when Wren meets potential friends and gets selected as the makeup artist for her school’s upcoming production of Wicked.

Only, Wren’s mom isn’t doing so well. She’s taking a lot of naps, starts snapping at Wren for no reason, and always seems to be sick. And what’s worse, Wren keeps getting hints that things aren’t going well at her new job at the hospital, where her mom is a nurse. And after an opening night disaster leads to a heartbreaking discovery, Wren realizes that her mother has a serious problem—a problem that can’t be wiped away or covered up.

After all the progress she’s made, can Wren start over again with her devastating new normal? And will she ever be able to heal the broken trust with her mom?

From Me: 

Wren escapes with makeup and the special effect makeup videos. In many ways the makeup can be seen as a way to cover up what is really happening. Her parents get a divorce and her father remarries. Her mother is devastated and goes through stages of acting weird. Wren is thrown into the middle of her parents and is walking on eggshells around them all. Then there are issues with her friends. She and her mother move after some issue at her mother's work and she has to start over. 

The friendships are hard for Wren. She is a bit of an introvert and loner. She is trying to figure out her life and her parents while the other middle schoolers are talking about crushes and more. Barbara Dee has the entire middle school experience down in all of her books including this one. There are the thrills as well as the awkward moments. There is the knowing everything or at least thinking one does and the failing. 

Wren's mother is addicted to painkillers. She gets hospitalized and sent to treatment which of course changes Wren's entire world again. This is a powerful book in so many ways even without the drug addiction. There is dealing with a divorce and at least a depressed parent. There is the entire switching schools and the awkwardness of middle school. The book is very well written and is engaging the reader with the story lines that could come out of any middle school in America. I love how Barbara Dee's books help the reader relate to kids like themselves and realize they are not the only ones out there feeling like this. Each character in this book shows his or her flaws and vulnerabilities including the mean girl/queen bee. It allows the reader to see how each and every one of us has our own issues to deal with at any given time. Something every middle schooler should know!

I hope you will check out this book. Be sure to check out our reviews of Barbara Dee's other two middle grades novels.