Published by Coffee House Press on July 14th 2015
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The mothers should have jumped as soon as they saw the blue girl floating in the small town’s lake. But it was Audrey, the quiet daughter, who went after her first. In the weeks following the accident, the blue girl sits alone and silent in her room, willing and able to eat secrets the mothers bake into moon pies made to help them feel some degree of control in their increasingly unpredictable worlds.
It’s no wonder that small towns, distant teenagers, and family secrets pepper the plot lines of so many novels, as fiction parallels so many of our lives. But it can also be hard to make these stories distinct. Foos strikes a brilliant balance in acknowledging common similarities while also infusing her novel with overarching themes and big questions, all wrapped up in her fantastical blue girl.
“I remember lying on the beach that afternoon, looking at Audrey while trying at the same time not to look because I knew if she caught me she’d turn away. I remember wondering if I had been that way with my own mother once, always distant, always trying to disappear, always dismissing her, she who had held me in her womb and squeezed me out. How ungrateful we all once were, we daughters who become mothers only to learn how it feels, the endless cycle of rejection. I remember thinking about my mother that day, wishing I could tell her how sorry I was.”
The Blue Girl is told from the alternating perspectives of six narrators—three mothers and their daughters. Rather than feeling tangled, as the technique sometimes can, the different perspectives give us varied insight into the blue girl and the secrets she’s fed: a husband post-breakdown, a fragile son trapped in the mind of a child, and children sneaking off in the night. Though the oddity of baking secrets into moon pies may seem outlandish on the surface, it’s a compelling and compassionate vessel for a concept painfully familiar to many of us.