Monday, July 19, 2021

VIOLETS ARE BLUE by Barbara Dee – a story about coping with a parent’s addiction

Why you want to read this book…

A girl wearing makeup in shades of purples, with her eyes closed, earrings and a starfish hairclip

Barbara Dee always creates realistic and emotionally satisfying stories so I was super excited to read this latest novel. What an absorbing dive into a character with lots of personality and challenges! I love how Wren explored a different side of her personality when she moved to a new town to start over – including changing her name. It’s super interesting to follow her story as she struggles with friendships, her relationship with her parents and even how to act with a boy that likes her when she just wants to be friends. 

This book was definitely never boring! Wren has to deal with some really difficult things, like the weird way her mom is acting. One of the really cool things about this story is Wren’s unique interest in special effects makeup, which leads her to doing the makeup for the witch in a school production of Wicked. A great contemporary MG novel that’s definitely worth reading, especially if you like reading about family and friendship issues.


Here’s the summary from the publisher…  

 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?

Violets Are Blue by Barbara Dee is published by Simon & Schuster and comes out on September 21, 2021. I read a review copy provided by the publisher.

Teaching resources:   A recent interview with Barbara Dee about some of her books, including Maybe He Just Likes Me from Fairfax County Schools


  1. I've seen a lot of praise for this book, and considering Dee's track record with complex topics from what I've heard, I probably don't want to miss out on this book! Also, the cover is just beautiful. Thanks so much for the great post!

  2. I think I would like Violets are Blue -- it sounds very intriguing. You have me at Wren's mother's illness and how she'll cope with it. You told just enough that I want to get a copy. Thanks!

  3. I've also heard a lot about this book. The MC and story line have me intrigued. Thanks for the great review and I have placed this high on my list of books to read.

  4. This sounds like a powerful read. I'm also intrigued by her interest in special effects make up. That sounds interesting to read about and not something I've seen in MG books.

  5. Wow. This does sound good. I think I will have to find a copy. Thanks for telling me about it.


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