julie murphy

I’m not this sex-crazed maniac or anything, but I’m a human being. I think about sex. Girls think about sex. Sometimes a lot. I hate this idea that boys are thinking about sex nonstop and girls are thinking about – what? Stationary and garden gnomes? No.
—  From Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy. Get your copy today.

My heart is elastic. I realize it for the first time. For so long I thought there was a limit to how much love I could hold and who I could give it to. But life is so much more dynamic than that. Love doesn’t disappear when you give it away, and new love doesn’t make old love any less legitimate.”

Ramona Blue (Julie Murphy)

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Favorite Reads of March. 2017

March was a month of untraditional, but badass, ladies. The overweight beauty pageant, a female VW mechanic and Vlad The Impaler reimagined as a teenage girl. I laughed, cried and fell in LOVE in March. I loved almost everything I read and could not put it down. I specifically want to point out The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli which comes out on Tuesday (April. 11). It’s one of the best representations of low self-esteem and what it’s like to have a crush you don’t believe will be returned.  

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Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever. Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. One of only two out lesbians in her small town and standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the responsible adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, her responsibilities weigh more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool.

As Ramona falls more in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift as well, and she must decide if knowing who she is is more important than figuring out who she might become.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy via Edelweiss for review purposes.

Ramona was just a child when Hurricane Katrina uprooted her life. Ever since, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Being one of the only two lesbians in her small town, standing over six feet tall, and with bright blue hair, Ramona feels like she’s outgrowing the trailer she’s come to call home. But with a flaky mom and an overworked father, and between juggling her two jobs, Ramona feels the weight of responsibility. Especially now that her sister Hattie has fallen pregnant. The return of a childhood friend, Freddie, is a welcome distraction. As Ramona’s love for swimming grows, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift.

I really enjoyed Ramona Blue. It’s a fantastic, well-developed YA contemporary with lots of talking points and issues. There are so many things I enjoyed. Firstly, the sibling relationship between Ramona and Hattie. I loved (and I mean loved) their relationship. I’m a sucker for well-developed sibling relationships, and I loved how Ramona knew Hattie better than anyone and vice versa. Hattie was a bit selfish, and I really enjoyed the exploration of the dependency and responsibility between the two. And on top of this, I thought that the familial relationship was very well done. Whilst I wasn’t a fan of Ramona’s mother, I really loved her father; I particularly enjoyed the loving and supporting figure her father was.

Additionally, I thought that exploration and the genuine look at poverty was very well done. It’s definitely something I would like to see more of in YA fiction, because I do think it’s lacking. And I think that this also ties in with the supporting familial relationship because it’s rare that we get a look at poverty and supporting families, because there is quite often this assumption that poverty means neglectful parents and that’s definitely not always the case. So yeah, that’s definitely something I really enjoyed about Ramona Blue (yes–her mother was flaky, but her father was a stable and reliable parental figure and that’s who she lived with).

I loved the exploration of sexuality and how it’s fluid, and how Ramona was the only one to define her identity:

“I was so scared that by having sex with Freddie, I would lose part of myself-part of my identity. Instead, I’ve embraced another facet of myself. Life isn’t always written in the stars. Fate is mine to pen. I choose guys. I always choose girls. I choose people. But most of all: I choose.”

Whilst I enjoyed the romance, and it was sweet and well-developed, it definitely wasn’t the focal point of the story, and so was probably the aspect I least enjoyed. Nevertheless, it’s still a sweet romance, and Ramona Blue is still a book I would recommend to YA romance fans too.

It’s not quite a 5-star read for me, but it’s pretty close. I would definitely recommend Ramona Blue to fans of realistic fiction and contemporary romance.

Rating: ★★★★☆

I want to make a point on the “lesbians sleeping with men” trope

There is an over abundance of stories about lesbians falling in love with or sleeping with men.

There are a ton of shitty examples (Chasing Amy, Kissing Jessica Stein, The Kids are Alright) in mainstream media.  For some reason filmmakers in particular love to tell this story (though literary adult fiction does it a lot too).  It always ends with the lesbian either staying a lesbian, turning straight, or adopting some vague no labels bs so she can be with the dude.  

I know no lesbians who like these stories.  They are sick to death of seeing them.

There is a dearth of stories about ‘lesbians’ falling in love with or sleeping with men and realizing that they’re actually bi.  

 You never ever see this in media.  Seriously I’m struggling to name an example.  Maybe Tina from the L Word?  But that’s kinda a stretch since her character arc was an inconsistent train wreck so it was hard to tell what she was realizing there.  Erica Moen has written about it in her comic work that is autobiographical, but I can’t think of any fictional stories about this besides the upcoming Ramona Blue.

Bi women love these stories.  They are desperate for more of these stories.  They hold onto the aforementioned shitty example movies because they’re all we can get.  I’m a big believer in needing more bisexual-using-the-b-word representation in media for bi people but frankly in a desert, sometimes you drink sand.   I know plenty of bi women who have a soft spot for films like Chasing Amy because for years it was the closest thing to bisexuality or their story of bisexuality that you could find on screen.  We understand they are problematic, but we still cling to them.   Its deeply unfair to heap scorn on bi women for cherishing those scraps when scraps are all we’ve been given.  

This is a clear case where the lesbian experience with this as a trope and the bi experiance with this as a story is very different.  For people who don’t understand why stories like Chasing Amy and Ramona Blue are wanted and cherished by bi women, this is your chance to listen to what we are saying about our real life experiences and how it plays into our desires for these stories.  You have a chance to learn here.  Please consider doing so.

- Sarah 

46 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences In YA Literature

1. “You could rattle the stars. You could do anything, if you only dared. And deep down, you know it too, and that’s what scares you the most.”
—Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass

2. “Because sometimes chance and circumstance can seem like the most appalling injustice, but we just have to adapt. That’s all we can do.”
—Gavin Extence, The Universe Versus Alex Woods

3. “I can’t seem to be a pessimist long enough to overlook the possibility of things being overwhelmingly good.”
—John Corey Whaley, Where Things Come Back

4. “Books are my friends, my companions. They make me laugh and cry and find meaning in life.”
―Christopher Paolini, Eragon

5. “Because Margo knows the secret of leaving, the secret I have only just now learned; leaving feels good and pure only when you leave something important, something that mattered to you. Pulling life out by the roots. But you can’t do that until your life has grown roots.”
—John Green, Paper Towns

6. “Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.”
―J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

7. “I’m done with those; regrets are an excuse for people who have failed.”
—Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind of a Funny Story

8. “Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.”
—Veronica Roth, Divergent

9. “The moon is a loyal companion. It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human. Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.”
—Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

10. “Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”
—Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor & Park

11. “Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.”
—Natalie Babbit, Tuck Everlasting

12. “Just because we’ve been … dealt a certain hand … it doesn’t mean that we can’t choose to rise above — to conquer the boundaries of a destiny that none of us wanted.”
—Stephenie Meyer, Twilight

13. “Some walks you have to take alone.”
—Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay

14. “That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.”
—John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

15. “We believe in the wrong things. That’s what frustrates me the most. Not the lack of belief, but the belief in the wrong things. You want meaning? Well, the meanings are out there. We’re just so damn good at reading them wrong.”
—Rachel Cohn, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares

16. “Why would you be given wings if you weren’t meant to fly?”
—Leslye Walton, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

17. “Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing.”
—Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

18. “It’s just that…I just think that some things are meant to be broken. Imperfect. Chaotic. It’s the universe’s way of providing contrast, you know? There have to be a few holes in the road. It’s how life is.”
—Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever

19. “The universe is bigger than anything that can fit into your mind.”
—Ava Dellaira, Love Letters to the Dead

20. “I try to think about how it all works. At school dances, I sit in the background, and I tap my toe, and I wonder how many couples will dance to ‘their song.’ In the hallways, I see the girls wearing the guys’ jackets, and I think about the idea of property. And I wonder if anyone is really happy. I hope they are. I really hope they are.”
—Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

21. “Things were rough all over but it was better that way. That way, you could tell the other guy was human too.”
—S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders

22. “What if evil doesn’t really exist? What if evil is something dreamed up by man, and there is nothing to struggle against except our own limitations? The constant battle between our will, our desires, and our choices?”
—Libba Bray, Rebel Angels

23. “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”
—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

24. “It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. If you see what I mean.”
—Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

25. “I can tell you that the end of a life is the sum of the love that was lived in it, that whatever you think you have sworn, being here at the end of Jem’s life is not what is important. It was being here for every other moment.”
—Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Princess

26. “Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.”
—Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle In Time

27. “Maybe who we are isn’t so much about what we do, but rather what we’re capable of when we least expect it”
—Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

28. “People never really died. They only went on to a better place, to wait a while for their loved ones to join them. And then once more they went back to the world, in the same way they had arrived the first time around.”
―V.C. Andrews, Flowers in the Attic

29. “Goodbye, I say, goodbye, as I disappear little by little into the middle of the middle of my own spectacular now.”
—Tim Tharp, The Spectacular Now

30. “But if I’m it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell I’m going to let the story end this way…Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity’s last war, then I am the battlefield.”
—Rick Yancey, The 5th Wave

31. “The words were on their way, and when they arrived, she would hold them in her hands like clouds, and she would ring them out like the rain.”
—Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

32. “Child, no one is ever ready for anything. I would never doom you to that. What sort of adventureless life would that be?”
—Alethea Kontis, Enchanted

33. “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
—John Steinbeck, East of Eden

34. “Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.”
―Jandy Nelson, I’ll Give You the Sun

35. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: We all want everything to be okay. We don’t even wish so much for fantastic or marvelous or outstanding. We will happily settle for okay, because most of the time, okay is enough.”
—David Levithan, Every Day

36. “Doubt everything at least once. What you decide to keep, you’ll be able to be confident of. And what you decide to ditch, you will replace with what your instincts tell you is true.”
―Amy Plum, After the End

37. “Just as a river by night shines with the reflected light of the moon, so too do you shine with the light of your family, your people, and your God. So you are never far from home, never alone, wherever you go.”
—Karen Cushman, Catherine Called Birdy

38. “You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.”
—John Green, Looking for Alaska

39. “There’s no shame in fear, my father told me, what matters is how we face it.”
—George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings

40. “I know that the whole point—the only point—is to find the things that matter, and hold on to them, and fight for them, and refuse to let them go.”
—Lauren Oliver, Delirium

41. “We feel cold, but we don’t mind it, because we will not come to harm. And if we wrapped up against the cold, we wouldn’t feel other things, like the bright tingle of the stars, or the music of the aurora, or best of all the silky feeling of moonlight on our skin. It’s worth being cold for that.”
—Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass

42. “It’s a lot easier to be lost than found. It’s the reason we’re always searching and rarely discovered—so many locks not enough keys.”
―Sarah Dessen, Lock and Key

43. “On that cold night in January it all slipped into place for me and she became my everything and my everyone. My music, my sun, my words, my logic, my confusion, my flaw.”
—Julie Murphy, Side Effects May Vary

44. “Hope? Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”
—Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke and Bone

45. “[She] had always suffered from a vague restlessness, a longing for adventure that she told herself severely was the result of reading too many novels when she was a small child.”
—Robin McKinley, The Blue Sword

46. “Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels, but old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.”
—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 

We Need To Talk About Ramona Blue:

TO EVERYONE WHO GAVE THIS BOOK ONE STAR WITHOUT READING IT:

First off, know that I am not going away. I am going to stand here and scream this from the rooftops as many times as I have to. Because I am tired of my voice and my story being drowned out. This book tells my story. If I get even one person to at least consider they might be wrong, if even one person buys this book because of me, then I’ve made a difference. 

I respect your opinion and based off of the original synopsis I completely understand why you felt that way - indeed I agree with you. I understand why the initial synopsis made you angry, really I do. The b.s. trope that lesbians (or any LGBT+ girl) can be ‘cured’ by finding the right boy is not just offensive and incorrect, but incredibly, incredibly harmful. And when it’s used as much as it is, it leads to people in the real world justifying their homophobic thoughts with - “I can f**k that girl, she’s secretly straight anyway. I can make her change her mind. She just needs the right guy.” Corrective rape is a very real danger and one that is directly impacted by words like those in that synopsis.

But this isn’t what the book is about. When the author, Julie Murphy @andimjulie, was informed of how offensive and harmful the synopsis/blurb was she started arranging to have it changed. Because here’s the thing: authors don’t get to write those. Some random person at the publishing house does. It’s that random person that made the harmful words and who misunderstood the book.

The new synopsis is up on this goodreads page now  . Please read it and maybe consider changing or removing your rating?

Because this book isn’t about 'lesbians can be cured.’ This book is about bisexual girls, girls just like me, who grow up not knowing that they are bi. Believing that because they like girls they must therefore be lesbians or because they like boys they must therefore be straight. I’m the latter; in this heteronormative world I spent years believing I was straight before I realised.

This book is for all the girls like me who think they fit into one box because they like someone and then one day, realise they have feelings for a different gender. It is about how confusing and scary and downright terrifying that is. It is about lying awake all night thinking “but does liking this boy mean i was straight all along?” “do i actually like him or is it because i’m supposed to?” it’s about worrying that you can’t change your identity because people already know you as a 'lesbian.’ Worrying that you’re just attention seeking or greedy or unable to make up your mind, that you’re on the fence and you need to choose.

This book is about the moment of relief when you finally find the name that suits you - bisexual. Or, perhaps when you decide that it’s okay to not know for sure right now. And how much weight is taken off you once you know who you are, and you have an identity.

I haven’t read the book yet but the new revised synopsis reflects that the book will actually be about those topics. You’re punishing the author for what someone else misunderstood and wrote as a harmful piece of promotion. Notice how different (and not harmful) the synopsis is now that it’s been written with the author’s suggestions instead of just by some dude? That to me suggests that the book itself, written entirely by her, will be much more like the new synopsis than the old one.

Oh, and you will also notice that I mentioned I haven’t read the book yet. So how then, you wonder, am I able to sit here and say that the book will be about all of the things above?

Because I am that girl. I went through all of those things. Mine was vice versa to Ramona - I believed that I had to be straight because I liked boys and if you like boys that’s all you can be right? Wrong. It was so, so hard for me to figure out who I am, where my place in this world is. It took me four years to get where I am (I’m 18 now). And I still haven’t finished this journey - my parents don’t know. I know, from reading this new synopsis, that that is what this book is about because I have lived it. I know because the author is bisexual, married to a man - she has lived it too.

Tumblr I just don’t get it. We cry and cry for more representation but when you have it you destroy it’s chances with negative reviews before it’s even begun. All because it’s the “wrong sort” of representation. You don’t want this bi girls story, my true story, because it shows that sometimes girls who like girls also like boys. Not always but sometimes. And sometimes we end up with those boys. 

Please, buy this book. Promote this book, please at least undo this low rating until you have read it. This book could have saved me so much heartache when I was fourteen. It could have let me know that I was not alone. It could have saved me six months of self-harm, an emotionally abusive relationship, bullying for being 'frigid.’

I didn’t have this book when I was facing all those things. But the next bi or pan girl could. We could save them.

Representation is important. Lesbian representation and positive, good representation at that, is important. But so is bi girl representation. And this book just happens to be one for the bi girls. This doesn’t have to be either or, bi girls existing doesn’t mean that lesbians do not. Please, let’s not harm each other’s chance at representation. Let’s support each other.

Please, at least let’s read this book before we give it a rating. Please help the next girl like me before she is hurt.