Ramona Blue lives in a trailer park with her dad, her pregnant sister Hattie, and Hattie's boyfriend Tyler. They have been living in this trailer park ever since their house was hit by Hurricane Katrina when Ramona was five years old. Since then, her family has been working hard to make ends meet, her flaky unreliable mom left their dad, and they will be soon welcoming a new member into the family. Ramona is known as the tall (over six feet) girl with blue hair who likes girls and is incredibly loyal to her family. She doesn't want to be stuck in Eulogy, Mississippi her whole life but with trying to help her family stay afloat and take care of her sister she's not letting herself think of a different path for herself. Her childhood friend, Freddie has moved back after a long time being gone, and their friendship leaves off where it started. He helps her fall in love with swimming and they become inseparable. Ramona starts to have feelings for Freddie, which makes her question her sexual identity and she begins to wonder if she is actually bisexual or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.
I really enjoyed this book. I liked Ramona as a protagonist and I enjoyed reading her perspective. I think her loyalty to her family was really admiring even it could sometimes teeter on the negative side. I loved her humor, her bickering with Freddie, Saul, or Ruth was always funny to read. I felt that her friendship with Freddie was realistic and sweet. I believed they were friends before we got to meet either of them. They fell into being friends again really seamlessly and it felt like there was history there without having to go into too much detail.
From what I can tell on Goodreads there is a lot of controversy about this book because people have the impression that Ramona is a lesbian that is "magically straight" because she meets the "perfect guy" which I do not think is an accurate portrayal of the story. It is true that she starts to date Freddie but after her feelings start to really form about Freddie is when she starts to experiment with the idea that maybe her sexual identity is more complicated than the label "lesbian". I am biromantic and I have just recently started figuring out how fluid sexual identity can be. I think that Ramona's experience with figuring herself and her sexual identity out could be one many readers can relate to. I don't think this is a spoiler to say, but she doesn't decide exactly what she labels herself by the end of the book because she's still figuring it out. She's only eighteen, and she knows she likes kissing girls and having sex with girls, but she also knows that she enjoys kissing Freddie. Even Ruth, who tells everyone she is a lesbian, tells Ramona she actually identifies as a homosexual demisexual. Which I loved seeing, someone who is also demisexual. I think just like all other LGBTQ+ stories, sexual fluidity is also something that should be in literature more. Because like many things, sexuality isn't always black and white.
Julie Murphy's writing style was so easy to get hooked into. I saw that some reviewers found the story to be a bit slow, but I had a different experience. I was pretty hooked early on and I found myself reading late hours. Time flew for me. I think the dialogue is well written and it played out like a story in my head.
One con for me, is that I wanted to know more about Saul and Ruth, but especially Saul. I enjoyed all the scenes he was in, he seemed hilarious. But because we don't get enough about him I didn't feel like he felt like a full character. He was so funny. I would have maybe liked to see a scene with Ramona and Saul by themselves like we got to see with Ramona and Ruth. I also wouldn't have minded to get to know Ramona and Hattie's dad a bit more, since we don't get many moments with him. I can't remember a scene where he wasn't a background character.
I really enjoyed the friendship, and even the relationship between Ramona and Freddie. They were adorable and I enjoyed that they worked well together. I absolutely loved Freddie's grandma Agnes, who was the sweetest.
Another thing I was pleasantly surprised about was that Julie Meyers touches on another important issue. It's only for a small scene, which revolves around the fact that Freddie is a black teenager. I really like that it is brought up, and I think it makes Ramona check her privilege and learn more about Freddie's world which I found really interesting.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story and I am really happy I picked it up. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to read a LGBTQ+ book, but also for anyone interested in a cute book about fluid sexuality, a little romance, and learning how to put yourself first, even if that means being a little selfish at times.