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Reviewed by Michael Gardner for Readers' Favorite
Up to this point, I’ve avoided COVID-related fiction as it has felt a bit too close for comfort. These are, as the now popular word describes, unprecedented times. And America knows this only too well. But relying on snippets of news once an evening, I don’t really know what day-to-day life has been like for American people trying to make ends meet through COVID. And I feel that Blue Mask, Red Hat by Lisa Creech Saleh paints a very good picture of what life has been like for people where the virus has run rampant. The strength of the book is it’s not about COVID. COVID is a background presence, rather like living in a world where zombies exist, ready to snare the unprepared or the unwary. Nana is aware of, or perhaps even accustomed to, the ever-present danger, but she is busy getting on with her life, taking positive steps towards finding old friends, confronting her past, and healing old wounds.
Blue Mask, Red Hat is a fine example of slice of life fiction. It’s well written and endearing, drawing the reader into the story and engaging our sympathy, making even mundane passages an engrossing read. The interludes back to the 1970s and 1980s add extra depth to the story, showing the touching relationship between the sisters. They also add good contrast to the narrative, showing us what felt like much more innocent times compared to the past year and a half. My one regret is not reading the first book in the series before this one. There is a strong sense of a hopeful resolution to the crisis, compared to the chaos and uncertainty of 2020. Although I would say the story stands alone well enough, I think readers will find Blue Mask, Red Hat much more rewarding by reading the series in sequence.