Friday, April 30, 2010

Bleeding Violet

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves 2010
Simon & Schuster

Rating: 5/5

IQ "I was biracial and bi cultural-a walking billboard for adaptation." Hanna pg. 23 (there are so many awesome quotes in this book, it was impossible to pick just one. I didn't want it to be spoiler-y or too long)

Hanna may be crazy, but just like everyone else, she wants to be loved. Her father has died, so she sets out to find her mother. She knows that her mother, Rosalee Price, lives in Portero, Texas. Hanna spent many years of her life in Finland with her Finnish father, she's never connected with her African American mother. When she arrives Hanna's mother is more than reluctant to accept her, especially when she finds out that Hanna hallucinates and has manic depression, but it's OK because she has lots of medicines and when she remembers to take the medicine she's fine. Really. However, Portero may be even crazier than Hanna. It's filled with secrets and terrified people and no one will explain to Hanna the history of the town or what is going on. All Hanna wants is to be accepted by the people of the town and most importantly, her mother.

Hanna is a fantastic character! She's pretty and self-assured and she's not afraid to play up her beauty. She enjoys torturing boys by showing them what they can't have and while her vanity borders on being obnoxious, it never fully crosses the line. The author does a good job of keeping Hanna from ever getting annoying by showing her vulnerable and some-what odd side. Also, it was most refreshing to see a YA heroine who doesn't see having sex as a big deal. She's open to having sex, she uses protection and she enjoys it (*gasp of horror* ha). Even with all this, the sex in the book is not graphic, it's handled tastefully. Another thing that was handled well, was having a mental illness. I'm not an expert, but I thought the author was very respectful, she never dumbed down Hanna. Mental illness is not often portrayed in books and I enjoyed this glimpse into the various types of mental illness and the thought process they might go through. The rest of the characters make this book even better. Another rarity in YA: a mother who abandoned her husband and child. I was really curious as to why she left them and if she would ever acknowledge that deep-down she does love Hanna (I think every parent loves their child since they are a part of them. Some parents just try to deny/hide it). My heart went out to Hanna because she tries so hard with her mother and Rosalee is cold. Their relationship is realistic with breakthroughs and setbacks. Wyatt was a sweet-heart, although I had the same first impression of him as Hanna. Shoko was very cool as well and I loved that "she had too much self-confidence to be in high school" (pg. 35), she could be distant but she had a softer side to her as well, much like all the characters.

The world of Portero is a delightfully haunted world. I was so intrigued by everything there and I was so glad we got to experience each new and foreign thing with Hanna. There are monsters and alternate worlds (sort-of) and lots of mystery enveloping the town. It's eerie but not in a nightmare-ish way (trust me, I can't watch horror movies or read horror books), it's compelling. The author has such a way with words "The man's arms were outstretched, his see-through palms flat against a long stretch of window that wasn't nearly as crystal clear as he was. Numerous bloodlike, gelatinous stains pinwheeled hypnotically at either end of the long window, like two giants outside the school had blown their brains out against the glass." (pg. 32) Alluring imagery, I can see exactly what's being described in my mind's eye! *shivers*

Bleeding Violet is a book that you will not be able to put down. The never-before seen creatures, eccentric characters, unique setting and unforgettable heroine (and her fascination with the color purple) all make for a wonderfully bizarre read. It doesn't end on a cliffhanger which I was really happy about and I'm eager to visit Portero again in the author's next book! As for the IQ, can I get an Amen from those who are bi racial/bi cultural or both? ;) It was nice to read a book where the main character just happened to be bi-racial, there's not a huge deal made over Hanna's heritage (with the exception of the pronunciation of her last name Jarvinen, with an : over the a). Hanna is so different with her background (raised by a single father), mental illness and incredibly poised and confident along with self sufficient (she sews her own clothes). I love the tagline "Crazy never looked so beautiful" and the cover is exquisite. I love this book.

Disclosure: Bought it, one of the best purchases of my reading life :) Definitely a top read of 2010

PS Stop by tomorrow for my interview with the fabulous Dia!


  1. YAY You liked it!! I heart this book soooooooo much. ♥ I can't WAIT for your interview, lawl. 8D

  2. Excellent review! I knew you'd love this one :)

  3. Sounds wonderful! I'll definitely be making this one of the debut novels I read this year. Hanna sounds pretty unusual for a YA protagonist - how awesome to have such a confident character in the leading role.

  4. High praise. Sounds like yet another one I need to read. As always loved your review.

  5. I've heard some good things about this books and I'm happy to see you agreed with them! For some reason I kept getting this book confused with Swoon and Shade - I think just becuase the covers are kinda similar. I'll have to pick this one up at some time.

  6. It's official. I'm desperate to read this book! It looks like it's fabulous and exactly the thing I like to read. Thanks for the awesome review! :)

  7. I loooove Hanna so much. Definitely the first really unique character I've come across in a long time (and not just because of her background, but because of how she acts/reacts in situations, her outlook on life, everything <3)

  8. I can't believe that I just returned Bleeding Violet to the library without reading it! UGH! Great review. I'm definitely going to check this back out in a week or two.

  9. @Ah Yuan-YES it was....*contented sigh*

    @Girl-Thank you, I'm so glad people kept recommending it to me and reviewing it :)

    @Lauren-Definitely a debut author to check out. That's part of what makes the book so great; Hanna is so confident and she has split personalities sometimes but it's great.

    @Jan-Thank you :) A must-read

    @Jill-This cover does look a bit like Shade, not so much Swoon (in my opinion), but I think you should read it. I'm not sure if you would want your middle school kids to read it though, it depends on if you try and watch what they read.

    @Maggie-I can totally tell that this is a book you will love!

    @Ellen-I love the idea of the contest you're having, sending Bleeding Violet around and passing it on, what a wonderful idea! I loved reading about how Hanna reacted in certain situations and her confidence and well..everything =)

    @Vasilly- *gasp* WHAT?! Nooo, run and get it :D

  10. Ok I am picking this up, it is literally the next book I'm going to read. So many spots hit here for me and I want to see how that mother daughter relationship is portrayed.

  11. Great review, Ari. This one is my favorite read of 2010 so far...such a wonderful, exquisite book.

  12. Wow, this book sounds amazing! I especially love how Hanna is manic-depressive. As a diabetic, I wish more books would have protagonists with some kind of disability/disease/condition/whatever.

  13. @Jodie-YAY! That's how I felt after reading your review of Toads & Diamonds =) It's a sad but great mother daughter relationship.

    @Ana-Your review was the final selling point after the summary, how fun Dia seems and all the rave reviews. For you guys to give it a 10 *staggers back*, I knew that I needed to read it asap.

    @Heather-It is amazing! I wish I could give it to everyone, even people bothered by gore and other things because it's so awesome. I too wish that there were more books about people with a disability or disease. The only other ones that I can think of are Chris Crutcher's books and Francisco's Stork books. There are probably more, I'm just going with POC ones that I rememember hearing about.

  14. So glad you liked this one! I'm always on the hunt for new bizarre-absurd YA reads, and from everything I've heard, this book is for me. Now I just have to remember to get it when I go to the library next...

    Great review!

  15. @celi.a-Remeeemmmmber!! It's a win :) This book is absurd, but not in a funny way. More of a creepy way, but a good kind of creepy. Haha if that makes sense. Thank you :)

  16. I finished it...! Review to come, but let me just say I liked it a lot. It wasn't quite all love with me, but on the whole really good and I'm looking forward to seeing what the author writes next. Is there going to be a sequal/book set in the same world then?

    And it is genuinely creepy, unlike so many YA books where you know for sure everyone will be ok in the end. There were times I thought Rosalee might not make it. Rosalee how awesome was she and yet how cold like you mentioned.

  17. OK, after your raving review, I went out and bought this book. I could not put it down. Hanna is so loveable. I love the part when she goes "Damn, I'm pretty." I sped through it last night, but I'm going to reread it before long, because I think I missed a bunch of good stuff. Thank you for the recommendation!

  18. @Jodie-So glad you picked it up! It is wonderfully creepy. There is going to be another book set in Portero but it's not a sequel, it's called Slices of Cherry

    Oh I know! I despertely wanted everything to turn out ok with Hanna and Rosalee.

    @Ronni-Whoo! She is one of my all-time favorite YA protagonists. She rocks. I need to re-read it too, it's a book where each time you re-read it you find something you missed :)


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