Friday, September 4, 2015

Ms. Hen reviews THE BLUE GIRL

By Laurie Foos
Coffee House Press

Ms. Hen has been a fan of Laurie Foos since she took a class with her at the Boston Center for Adult Education in 2002. Ms. Hen read one of her books and developed an instant writer-crush on Laurie, because her writing goes to places where Ms. Hen wishes her own writing would go. Ms. Hen read PORTRAIT OF THE WALRUS BY A YOUNG ARTIST, and was immediately captivated by the strange and wonderful world of Foos’ magical realism.

Laurie Foos’ latest novel, THE BLUE GIRL, is about a group of women and their daughters who find a blue girl at the lake in their small vacation town. The blue girl was drowning, and Irene’s daughter Audrey saved her. The other mothers and daughters and everyone else at the beach didn’t do anything to save the blue girl, who has no name, she is simply referred to as the blue girl.

After Audrey saves her, the blue girl goes to a house in the woods and is taken care of by an old woman. No explanation is given who the old woman is. The women, Irene, Magda and Libby, go to the house to give the blue girl moon pies to eat, but the girl has a hard time breathing and does not eat a lot. The bake their secrets into the moon pies, secrets that they don’t want anyone to know. A moon pie is a chocolate sandwich with marshmallow cream in the middle and chocolate drizzle over the top. They tell their families the cakes are for a bake sale, even though there has never been a bake sale in their town.

The daughters, Audrey, Caroline and Rebecca want to find the blue girl and they want to know why she is blue. Caroline, the smart one, researches blue skin and tries to discover how the girl turned that color. Rebecca, the beautiful one, is fooling around with Caroline’s brother Greg. Audrey cannot sleep after she saves the blue girl.

There is no explanation in the book about why the girl is blue or who the old woman is taking care of her. The blue girl could represent the unconscious desire that we all have that we don’t want anyone to know, and that is the reason the women feed her the moon pies with their secrets baked into them. They have all wanted something different from what they have, but by feeding the girl, they release their desires and they try to diminish the pain of the past.

THE BLUE GIRL is simply and sparsely written. It is about mothers and daughters and what mothers want for their daughters and what they want for themselves.  It is about desire and love and what everyone wants from their lives. Do we want to leave our home? Do we not want to end up like our mothers? Do we want happiness? What is happiness? Can happiness be found in a moon pie, or do we have to find it within ourselves?

Ms. Hen likes to read novels that make her ask questions. THE BLUE GIRL made her ask lots of them. Who is the blue girl and why does everyone want to know more about her? Ms. Hen thought about swimming in a lake where she could find the blue girl, because she wants to find something magic. Ms. Hen gives THE BLUE GIRL five feathers up. She also dreams of giving her secrets away like the characters in the novel. But first, she has to learn to bake moon pies.

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