When Red Is Blue

Fiction - Realistic
308 Pages
Reviewed on 12/24/2012
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Brenda Casto for Readers' Favorite

Kate Faraday always felt a bit of shame where her parents were concerned. It was tough growing up with an alcoholic father and a mother who suffered from mental illness. Added to the dysfunction was the fact that her parents lived in separate houses, but stayed in each other's lives. Kate lived with her father, but she had been looking out for her mother for as long as she could remember. After high school Kate leaves the tiny town of Cooper, to go to college in Lansing in the hope of leaving Michigan and moving to California, where she could start over. When something happens to her mother she finds herself dealing not only with long-lost relatives, but with feelings that she has kept buried as well.

"When Red Is Blue" is a powerful story that allows the reader a true glimpse of the effects of growing up in a dysfunctional family. Sabrynne McLain breathes life into each of her characters allowing me to feel the emotions that they felt. As we learn about Kate's mother Sophia it is easy to feel sympathy for her, but the snippets of the past that we get also allow the reader to see the pride she felt for her only daughter. Art Faraday was another surprise. Kate remembered him as an alcoholic, but as she sifts through the past she sees a man who sacrificed, and truly loved her mother. Kate's character is the most complex of all. The author allows us to see Kate's flaws, but Kate judged herself more harshly than anyone around her did. She is a daughter who worried about her mother, felt guilt over something that wasn't her fault, and didn't hesitate to come home and help her father when he needed her. "When Red Is Blue" is a touching account of a daughter longing to break away and leave the past behind, but learns that she must deal with the past in order to embrace her future! A book that will resonate with anyone who has ever been touched by alcoholism or mental illness. Memorable characters have made this a story that I continued to think about long after I read the final page!

Alice DiNizo

"The mentally ill person takes a box that the world sees as red and makes that box blue". In "When Red Is Blue", the main character Katie Faraday deals with her mother's schizophrenia and her father's alcoholism while attempting to finish graduate school as she works part time in a go-go bar. Katie's mother, Sofia, had been married before to a man called Frank O'Malley but he divorced her after she aborted her pregnancy, claiming the government had contaminated her womb. Sofia's mental illness was just too much for him. Art Faraday was Sofia's second husband, and as much as he loved her, they had been divorced twice since their daughter Katie was thirteen. Before their divorces, Katie lived with her parents across the street from two houses connected by a tunnel that was reputed to be part of the Underground Railway. Katie often wished she could hide in the tunnel to escape from her father's drunken rages and her mother's mental illness for which doctor-ordered medications only masked her problems temporarily. Sofia worked at Katie's school cafeteria, volunteered as a field trip chaperone and created a superb Halloween party for Katie and her friends, but she also hunted down "things" under the floor boards of their home. Art Faraday is almost as difficult to deal with, but as Katie remembers on page 86, "in the end he was her father, and he had tried his best, in the wake of alcoholism and his wife's insanity, to be a father".

"When Red Is Blue" is a brilliant, highly well-written story of a young woman who tries to deal with her parents' deep problems while forging ahead with her own life. Katie Faraday, her parents, Sofia and Art, best friend Liz, and all the other characters in this story demonstrate how lives are affected by mental illness. Katie's attempts to help both of her parents are described in a style that is believable, engrossing and unforgettable. Books are created about the effects of mental illness on those around the person so afflicted, but "When Red Is Blue" tells it so much better than most.

Darin Godby

Author Sabrynne McLain in her book "When Red Is Blue", writes a beautifully detailed event of a mom who is emotionally unbalanced and an alcoholic dad who works hard to provide for his family yet loves the bottle more than he should. There is daughter Kate who is raised in a very unstable family and yet she never gives up or blames the system. She tries to make the best of each situation that she encounters even when she is notified that her mother has frozen to death and must now prepare for her funeral. Not long afterward Kate takes her father to the doctor for tests only for him to be admitted into the hospital for additional tests and procedures. Soon Kate finds out that her father isn't going to make it and she must prepare for his death. Kate again walks through losing a parent and all the steps involved in such tragic times.

As the reader I was exposed to how alcohol and depression affects the lives of others. If you are facing issues such as these, then this would be a helpful book to read. This book will demonstrate how one can overcome hurtful issues and move forward with their life. Kate takes the reader on her journey as she deals with heart-wrenching losses, creating a very interesting and compelling read that teaches us all how we can move past loss.

Kathryn Bennett

"When Red Is Blue" by Sabrynne McLain is an emotional book that is fiction based on real life events that happened to the author. Kate Faraday grew up in a small Michigan town but she dreams of leaving that small town for California. It is not just the desire to leave a small town behind that motivates Kate but the demands of the life she is in. Her mother, a schizophrenic, is found dead and while Kate works with her own grieving process, which is anything but straight forward, she must also deal with a drunk for a father.

Sabrynne McLain pulls no punches with the reader in this novel. It is full of emotional and even stomach-churning events. There were several times when I remarked out loud that I could not believe what Kate was having to deal with. Among these dark things and troubled times, however, we find the silver lining. Kate remembers the good times and the happy memories that at first did not appear to be there. Kate learns as she grows and matures like many of us do. It implies that you sometimes have to dig deeper than the surface to find a better meaning in things. I can only imagine what it would be like to grow up with two parents with such hard to handle diseases. Sabrynne McLain manages to bring these experiences to the reader in a commendable way. Kate's journey is a long road and not an easy one at all. However, like anyone who faces trials in their life she becomes all the stronger and better for it. Watching her very human struggle to come to terms with certain aspects is touching. Sabrynne McLain has used her own experience to shine a light into an area that many turn away from and does it in a way that can appeal to any reader.

Gayani Hathurusingha

Often writers focus on the innumerable absurdities that a man might encounter within his lifespan. Sabrynne McLain, too, in her novel "When Red Is Blue", explores the versatile odds of life with such strength that the novel makes the reader ponder over the gravity of life, at the end of reading it. Woven around the character of Kate, a waitress at a strip bar, the novel unfolds the subtle realities and paradoxes of the life of a modern young woman. Kate is highlighted as special from the onset of the story, as she witnesses the collapsing of her family owing to her mother being a victim of a serious mental disorder. The writer fabricates the fluctuations of Kate's life, amidst her lunatic mother, helpless father, the Bohemian nature of her job and the men she encounters on the chaotic journey through odds.

What entices the reader here is the underlying essence of humanity and sensitivity running throughout the story. Despite the dire circumstances of her life, the protagonist tries to cling to the warmth of a family, and she dotes on the memories of a shattered past. The plot is driven back and forth, enabling the reader to share the stream of consciousness of a sentimental character. The novel provides a wonderful reading experience as the ability to depict reality in its stark form is the writer's forte. Tracing the journey of Kate from innocence to experience, the novel talks about relationships and the strength needed in making them sustain over time.