Silhouetted by the Blue

( 2 )

Overview

Seventh-grader Serena Shaw is trying to keep up at school while rehearsing for the lead role in the spring musical and dealing with a father so "blue" he is nearly catatonic. With the aid of a not-so-secret admirer as well as a growing sense of self-confidence, she faces the challenges of caring for herself and her ball-of-charm younger brother, all while attempting to lead the life of a normal pre-teen. Readers will be drawn into this convincing portrait of a vivacious young ...

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Silhouetted by the Blue

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Overview

Seventh-grader Serena Shaw is trying to keep up at school while rehearsing for the lead role in the spring musical and dealing with a father so "blue" he is nearly catatonic. With the aid of a not-so-secret admirer as well as a growing sense of self-confidence, she faces the challenges of caring for herself and her ball-of-charm younger brother, all while attempting to lead the life of a normal pre-teen. Readers will be drawn into this convincing portrait of a vivacious young person who is on a path to discovering that taking on responsibility sometimes means finding the best way to ask for help.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this coming-of-age tale, Jones creates a moving portrait of a girl forced by her mother's death and her father's incapacitating depression to accept adult household and child-raising responsibilities. Whether making afterschool arrangements for her younger brother, Henry; rehearsing for her role in the school play; handling laundry, shopping, and cooking; or finding time for homework, seventh-grader Serena responds with grace, fortitude, and humor to her challenges until, incrementally, they begin to overwhelm her. Jones (Finding My Place) offers a harrowing depiction of depression as witnessed and comprehended through young eyes, the suspense centering on whether Serena will recognize the gravity of her father's illness in time to seek help. Complex relationships with friends emphasize Serena's exposure to a wide range of social choices. Visual and dramatic arts figure highly: singing provides Serena with her one trusted mode of self-expression, while the novel's title refers to Henry's painting of Serena, which creates a turning point moment. Jones leaves readers with a sense of hope, though it's clear Serena and Henry's problems are far from over. Ages 10–14. (July)
Children's Literature - Anne Hevener
Serena Shaw has nightly homework, a starring role in the school musical, friendship troubles, and a developing crush. It is a full plate for any seventh grader, but for Serena, it is just the beginning. It has been 18 months since her mother's sudden death in a car accident, and Serena's dad has fallen into a serious case of the "blue," leaving Serena to manage the household. If there is to be dinner or clean clothes, it is up to Serena to do it. If her little brother, Henry, is to get home from school, Serena must figure out how to pick him up and still make it to rehearsals for The Wiz. Fluctuating between sympathy, worry, resentment and anger, Serena struggles to cope with her situation, and readers will root for her all the way. Although the scenes between Serena and her younger brother at times stray into sitcom-style dialogue, readers will care about their relationship, admiring Serena for her sense of responsibility and her strength, patience and kindness toward him. And, while the school situations do not always resonate as a typical seventh-grade experience (the situations often feel skewed toward a more early high school than junior high reality), these story lines—including two drifting best friends and a budding romance with a cute boy in Spanish class—will be of definite interest to girls 12 and up, addressing some of the everyday issues of teenage life. But it is Serena's almost unfathomable challenges at home that anchor this book, providing a serious look at grief, loss, depression and its potentially devastating effects on family life. And, happily, the story offers some hope. Reviewer: Anne Hevener
School Library Journal
Gr 6–8—Serena Shaw, an African-American seventh grader, is in crisis mode. Her mother died 18 months ago and since then her father has been slipping deeper into "the blue." He has had short periods of melancholy in the past, but his wife was always there to help him. Now, he has stopped taking his medicine and rarely gets out of bed. Serena, who hopes to get into Juilliard, is thrilled to win the lead in her school's musical, but the after-school rehearsals are making it harder for her to take care of her younger brother, Henry. Although her life is difficult, she doesn't want to share her problems with her best friends, or anyone else, worried that their father might "get sent somewhere." The situation escalates until she is forced to call the only person she thinks can help her family, her Uncle Peter. Jones has done a magnificent job of describing someone who is clinically depressed. Serena vacillates between sadness for her father's grief and rage because he's not being a father to her and her brother, but there is never any doubt that she loves him. Serena and Henry are well-defined characters who are trying to deal with a problem that they don't fully understand as well as grieve for their mother. It is a sign of Serena's strength that she finally realizes that she has to ask for help. The ending is not a quick fix, but it sends a hopeful message that with the right help, depression can be controlled.—Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC
Kirkus Reviews

A young teen struggles to balance responsibilities she shouldn't have to assume against the day-to-day travails of seventh grade.

Serena Shaw, a spirited middle-school student, is trying to keep her family together following the accidental death of her mother and the subsequent debilitating depression of her father, a noted illustrator.Her little brother is having problems coping with the change in their family. For a while, Serena thinks her father is just in a funk, and there are moments when he is able to work, but these are outweighed by days when he doesn't get out of bed. Serena has always dreamed of getting the lead in her school musical, but this means more pressure as she works on the play and assumes more responsibility at home as her father slips deeper into "the blue." She tries everything to reach her father, but his condition worsens with each day, culminating in an attempt to take his life. Finally, a family member steps in to help in the crisis. The portrayal of Serena is strong, showing both her maturity in handling her family problems and her normal seventh-grade insecurities. There are moments of great poignancy as Serena remembers her mother, who, though absent, is still an important figure.

A compassionate portrait of an African-American family coping with grief and mental illness.(Fiction 10-14)

From the Publisher
"Jones has done a magnificent job of describing someone who is clinically depressed." —School Library Journal

"Jones creates a convincing character in Serena. . . . Readers will be immediately sympathetic to Serena’s plight and draw a sigh of relief when she finally gets the help she needs." —BCCB

"Serena’s courage, perseverance, and hesitant relationships with friends, with Henry, and with new boyfriend Elijah make her a compelling character." —Horn Book Magazine

"The portrayal of Serena is strong, showing both her maturity in handling her family problems and her normal seventh-grade insecurities. . . . A compassionate portrait of an African-American family coping with grief and mental illness." —Kirkus Reviews

"A moving portrait of a girl forced by her mother’s death and her father’s incapacitating depression to accept adult household and child-raising responsibilities." —Publishers Weekly

 

Praise for Standing Against the Wind:

Winner of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award

"The gripping story of a contemporary kid who wants to make her dreams come true." —Booklist

"Patrice is a true hero, a child who has the inner strength to overcome roadblocks to success. Moving and thought-provoking." —Kirkus Reviews

"Stories of hope, loyalty, and success such as this one are valuable." —School Library Journal

"Patrice and Monty emerge as likable kids; readers can plug into their story at multiple levels." —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

"This excellent first novel is quite memorable, and readers will be drawn into Patrice’s quiet but determined quest for a more promising future. A highly recommended purchase for libraries serving middle and high school students." —Voice of Youth Advocates

 

Praise for Finding My Place:

"In the fall of 1975, Tiphanie Baker leaves her comfortable neighborhood and moves to a nearly all-white school in Denver’s suburbs, where she ‘never felt so Black—and so friendless—in my entire life.’ . . . A straightforward, well-told story with characters that ring true." —Publishers Weekly

"The book portrays the mood and perceptions of the time. People of differing ethnicities and races are still becoming accustomed to living, working, and going to school together, as demonstrated by the awkwardness and uncertainty with which Tiphanie and her fellow students regard each other. . . . Interesting and enjoyable." —School Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374369149
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 7/19/2011
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 638,660
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 720L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

TRACI L. JONES grew up in Denver, Colorado, in the very same house in which she now lives with her husband and four children. Visit her online at www.tracijones.com.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2012

    Loved It !

    Great book. Didn't want to put it down. It is really recommended for people who like real life problems.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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