Desert Isle Keeper
A Different Blue
Narrated by Tavia Gilbert
There are some books I just know I’m going to love. I read the synopsis, and something clicks in my brain. Such was the case when I stumbled upon Amy Harmon’s A Different Blue.
Meet Blue Echohawk. Well, that’s what’s she’s been called since she was around the age of two. Unfortunately, Blue doesn’t know her real name, the date of her birth, or anything about the mother who abandoned her in the front seat of a drifter’s truck. She was raised by Jimmy, the drifter she thinks of as her father, until she turns ten and he disappears.
Blue’s life with Jimmy is anything but conventional. She has never attended school; she learned how to carve wood instead of how to read, write, and do math. Jimmy’s disappearance causes Blue’s life to change in ways she can’t fully understand. She’s taken in by Jimmy’s half sister, a hardworking, man-hungry woman who doesn’t have time for such a needy child.
When we are first introduced to Blue, she’s nineteen, a senior in high school, and a waitress at a local diner. She is a very talented artist, and she’s managed to save some money by selling some of her pieces. Still, Blue doesn’t know what her future will hold. She wants to get out on her own, but, beyond that, it’s a blank slate.
Twenty-two-year-old Darcy Wilson is Blue’s history teacher. He has come to Nevada from England, intent on pursuing his dream to be a teacher, rather than the doctor his father always wanted him to be. He is quite devoted to his mother and sisters, and blames himself for not making things right with his ailing father before he died. When he meets Blue, Darcy is intrigued, if a little put off by this worldly-wise, smart-mouthed young woman. He wants to reach out to her, but doesn’t really know how.
When I think of Blue Echohawk, it’s narrator Tavia Gilbert’s voice I hear in my head. A Different Blue is told in first person, from Blue’s point of view. Gilbert was the perfect Blue. She gave the character the right mix of cynicism and naiveté. Through her narration, the listener comes to realize that Blue is a very complex character, one with more questions than answers, a woman who wants to lead a meaningful life, even if she’s not exactly sure how to pull it off.
I applaud Gilbert for her ability to voice several British characters, both male and female. Each spoke with the appropriate accent, never sounding fake. Gilbert also managed to make it amazingly easy to tell each character apart.
I especially enjoyed her depiction of Darcy, who prefers to be called Wilson. He’s a young man with big dreams and a lot of guilt to carry around. He has a big heart, one he wants to open to Blue. Gilbert allows the listener to hear his confidence and his insecurities. He’s a character full of contradictions, something that made him particularly likable to me. Gilbert’s skilled narration brought him to life.
The romance between Blue and Wilson is somewhat understated. This is more a story of Blue’s personal growth, of dreams achieved and questions answered, than it is a story of a man and woman falling in love. Throughout the book, we see just how much these two care about one another. However, Harmon doesn’t hammer her point home. She allows it to creep up on us in much the same way it seems to have crept up on Wilson and Blue.
I hate to sound sappy, but everything about this book was beautiful. It will definitely make my list of top reads for 2014. I have another Harmon book in my stack of things to listen to, Running Barefoot, and it’s also narrated by Tavia Gilbert. Needless to say, I’ll be starting it soon.
Breakdown of Grade – Narration: A+ and Book Content: A+
Unabridged. Length – 10 hours 49 minutes