Sunday, September 22, 2013

Bucket Lists and Big Attitudes: Goodbye, Rebel Blue

Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell
Amulet, Expected Release Date: October 1, 2013

*ARC provided by NetGalley - Thank you!*

Rebecca "Rebel" Blue has never fit in and has always had trouble with the rules. She does what she wants and because she believes she is in control of her own life. Blue believes this so much that she even takes on a crazy task and seeks to complete the bucket list of a recently deceased classmate just to show that her life is determined by choice, not chance. What Blue doesn't expect is for how these choices and each item on the list changes how she sees the world, what she believes about people, and how she fits into a much bigger picture.

Goodbye, Rebel Blue is one of those cases where I had no idea what I was getting into, but I'm so happy to have given this story a shot. Rebel is confident in who she is and what she wants. On the outside, it looks like she invites being ostracized and prefers being alone. And maybe she does, but not for the reasons she or other people think. As the novel progresses, readers are learning about Rebel at the same time that she's learning new things about herself. What starts out as a way to honor a dead girl she only knew in life for two hours in detention becomes a gritty journey where her biggest enemy is herself. She tells it like she thinks it is, and I admired that (while simultaneously cringing some times, but that's the point!) She considers huge questions, she feels deeply, and she has incredible growth as a character. She's not always likable, she's rarely the nicest person, but I was rooting for her nonetheless. There's a little Rebel in all of us, that part of our soul we wish we could let out, take the filter off, and burst forth. She's 'barefoot in a world that wears shoes' and you don't need to have blue hair like she does to know what that feels like. I could identify with her almost every step of the way and I'm 'old enough' to know better.

The bucket list forces Rebel to interact with all different kinds of people, and these characters are all just as interesting, scared, twisted, troubled, and wanting as much as she is, each in their own way. Rebel's detention buddy-turned-unlikely-friend Macey was a particular favorite of mine. She and Rebel couldn't be more different, but their struggles make them a great pair. Nick, the good boy Rebel also forms a friendship (and more) with is her polar opposite, and they widen each other's worlds in great and scary ways. The novel is well balanced in terms of Rebel's time: the amount of time spent with family vs. at school vs. extra curriculars and how it feels like she's always being pulled in a million different directions was realistic and reminded me a lot of my high school experience.

All in all, I couldn't be happier that I've read this book. I actually can't wait for it to come out so I can order it for my school and share it with my students. If you liked Thirteen Reasons Why or are looking for a contemporary story that's got salt in the wound but still has hope, Goodbye, Rebel Blue is a perfect choice.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

Shelley Coriell's Website
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