REVIEW and GIVEAWAY
Myself in Blue
by Renata F. Barcelos
Myself in Blue is currently on tour with Itching For Books Tours. The tour stops here today for my review and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
Romance, redemption, and psychedelic rock in 1989.
Sunday Morning is nineteen and recently diagnosed with osteosarcoma. She finds it fair: a deathly cancer to pay for her sins.
The fourth of five daughters, Sunday could never overcome the jealousy she felt for her sisters, especially the youngest and her Rett Syndrome with all the attention she required. She knows her resentment and rebellion as a wayward teen brought tragedy to her family, but never learned exactly the extent. Self-exiled in Brazil living a hard life of penitence for five years, she finally feels it's possible to come back and try to mend things.
Scott Goodwin writes bestseller biographies and always dreamed of writing about his idol, Grandma's Eye's vocalist, Iris Morning. The singer and her husband, Douglas Oshiro, have been reclusive since 1984, when their famous psychedelic rock band announced a surprising halt. Scott is thrilled when Iris finally agrees to let him write the book and even more so when she explains why. She hopes the bio will help finding her daughter Sunday and rebuild her shattered family.
It is Sunday, however, who finds Scott. Still too mortified to face her family, she offers her story to Scott in exchange for inside information about them. Scott has no idea how intensely the deal will change their lives when he agrees.
Through her own family's history, from the first Oshiros and Mornings, WWII impact on her ancestors and the struggle to form the band despite Iris' abusive stepfather--the chain of events that led to the band's success, the birth of a new generation, and the night that changed everything--Scott will try to show Sunday that nobody is perfect, and perhaps everything happens for a reason.
Sunday and Scott may not have much time, with her diagnosis and the fact that she doesn't feel worthy of redemption, but he will not give up easily. Scott has become Sunday's only link to the past, and perhaps her only chance to have a future.
“You know, being an immigrant runaway doesn’t pay as much as you’d think. I’m broke. All I had I used to buy my ticket home and some food. I’ve been around, trying to learn more about them, trying to see how things are.” She points over her shoulder to the back seat, where I left some older notes I didn’t need today. “So, you’re writing my mother’s biography?”
I only nod, with the increasing feeling that I’m inside a novel making me slightly dizzy.
“Would you like to have my point of view on it?”
“My side, you know. What it was like being their kid, where I’ve been, things like that.”
When an offer is too good to be true, and too unexpected, one might feel like they are falling into a trap, but I still cannot stop myself from agreeing enthusiastically.
“Yes, of course!”
She nods solemnly, as if we’ve just sealed a deal.
“Okay, you can have it. But only if you agree to help me, to tell me how things are now, and if you don’t tell Mama I’m back. Not yet, at least.”
“What? I can’t do that!”
“That’s the only way. I need more inside info before deciding to reveal myself, and that’s where you come in. I’m really not ready to face Mama yet.”
“Come on, Sunday, be reasonable. You need a place to stay, you need your family! Your mother is really worried about you, and I don’t want to betray her confidence by hiding something so huge from her.”
“If you disagree I’ll go away and you'll never hear from me again. I can do that, I have experience.”
It’s a difficult promise to make. I feel like I am deceiving Iris in an unforgivable way, and I'm not sure I’ll be able to live with that. But on the other hand, what choice do I have? I can’t leave Iris’ daughter on the street, in this condition. And I can’t simply go inside and announce that I found Sunday and then lost her again because I disagreed with playing on her terms.
It sounds like something Iris would not only understand but approve, and I imagine her telling me; do what Sunday says and keep her close. Try and convince her to go back to her family.
“Why did you decide to come back now?” I ask, afraid that I already know the answer. Iris told me Sunday needed her more than ever. That she felt as though her girl was in trouble. It isn’t difficult to see. “You’re sick, aren’t you?”
She nods slowly and swallows something, probably tears, before speaking.
“Actually, not sick. Wait. What’s your name again? You know mine but I never got yours.”
“Scott. Scott Goodwin.”
“Well, Scott, not just sick. Dying might be a better word.”
I stare at her, blood thumping in my ears.
“I’m dying, Scott.”
"So much has happened to me in the past five years that I think now, at twenty, I've become older than all people in my family. Not wiser, just older."
"I'm rotting from the inside out starting with my leg; something called osteosarcoma, eating me alive."
"I guess it's poetic in a way; I deserve every cancerous cell that rebelled against its sisters and started a war my body is doomed to lose. You may see the parallel; I was a cancer in my family, acting in the same way that's going to kill me."
"I suppose that since I was the youngest for five long and delicious years, I convinced myself that after three previous tryouts, they'd finally reached perfection with me, and didn't need to try anymore. I was the last baby because I was perfect and they were finally content with the result."
"For a while, when we were little, my sisters and I thought 'Douglas' and 'Iris' were synonyms for soulmates, so perfect did my parents seem together. I wanted to grow up and meet my Douglas. We all wanted to."
"I couldn't forgive them. Neither my parents for having another child, and a malfunctioning one, nor Earth, for being an invader, stealing their affection from me and ruining our status as a perfect family."
"There's always something better to do than sleeping ..."
"That's the case with cats; they own us, and it's never the opposite. Don't be fooled, you'll never have a cat - they may let you think that if it's convenient, but they are the bosses and you're more like staff."
"The entire wall filled with books warms my hearm more than one might expect."
"I hold my treasure with the excitement only books can provide me lately."
"He nods solemnly and we share another one of our silences that have all the ingredients for being awkward but remain full of comfort and ease."
"I turn my eyes toward his, trying to figure out if I'm so transparent that anyone would see that, or if it's Scott's special power to crack me open and read my insides like that."
"Sometimes fate smiles at us. Sometimes it beams."
"I only nod, with the increasing feeling that I'm inside a novel making me slightly dizzy."
"I feel like she's been part of my life for much longer than just the half hour we've been together."
"A fiction writer has to create an entire person from scratch, imagining his or her innermost thoughts, how they talk, how they act, how the sneeze, if they are slow, if they stutter, if they have a limp, if they bite their nails, if they blink when they're nervous ... I find it amazing how they do it. It's too much for me. I don't think I could be responsible for so much, playing God like that. I prefer to just be the narrator of a story that has already been created."
"'Come on Oz, let's have some breakfast, shall we?' Like every morning, Oz reacts to this as if I have invited him to Dog Disneyland with all expenses paid. It must be so easy being a dog; everything overly delights you."
"She's the personification of a psychology stereotype. The girl who tries so hard to punish her parents - for reasons she ends up confusing or forgetting altogether along the way - and ends up punishing herself more than anyone else without realizing it. Or, in her case, realizing it too late. She still thinks she's not worth anything good, not worth returning to her family, even though she misses and needs them."
"Another silence falls, and with the arrival of each new one I notice how comfortable they are becoming. You know how sometimes you are alone with someone and there's nothing so say, and it feels so awkward that you start babbling just to fill the void? Well, it's nothing like that with Sunday. It feels like we've known each other for so long that we could stay here savoring the silence for as long as we want. It seems safe to talk, and safe not to."
"It tastes even better than I imagined from the smell. It's all I can do to eat with a fork and knife like a human being and not to attack the plate with my face."
"I'd give anything to take the haunting memories away from her mind and give Sunday the peace she deserves."
The year is 1989. Sunday Morning is the daughter of Iris Morning and Douglas Oshiro, who are the lead singer and a musician in the cult band, Grandma's Eye. Sunday is a bad seed, "dark inside, trouble waiting to happen." Something happened late 1983, when she was nearly fifteen, leading her to run away from home to Brazil. Five years later, now aged twenty, Sunday is dying of osteosarcoma and wants to return home but can't quite bring herself to do so. She believes she deserves the cancer because of her past behavior, especially her poor treatment of her younger sister Earth, who suffers from Rett Syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder.
Scott Goodwin is commissioned to write the biography of Iris Morning, who also wants him to help find her daughter Sunday and reunite the family. Scott is left in an invidious position when Sunday seeks him out and agrees to tell him her side of the story as long as he keeps her return a secret from her family. Through Scott's notes and tape recordings we learn about Sunday's family history, and we are left to wonder what went so horribly wrong.
The story is told alternately from the points-of-view of Sunday and Scott. This leads to some repetition and too much introspection from both characters. There are numerous editing errors including lack of quotation marks, especially when Sunday is telling Scott her story. The book is overly-long and in need of a severe edit. It is apparent the author is trying to display her knowledge of Brazil, but there is too much irrelevant detail on topics such as the metric system, coffee, vegetarianism, pets, the Portuguese language, a homeless poet, food, cooking, diet, TV shows, and football.
On the plus side, there are some lovely and insightful lines, and the story is compelling.
About the Author
Renata F. Barcelos lives in Brazil with her teenage daughter, Maria, constantly complaining about the heat and dreaming of moving somewhere snowy.
She has a Law Degree, but promises never to use it. She prefers to study and teach languages and to write. Facing a three-hour daily commute, Renata uses this time to listen to audiobook after audiobook, plot, and write. Sometimes she hurts herself walking and writing at the same time - forgetting to look where she’s going.
Her characters usually don’t respect her wishes, taking the stories to places she never imagined they could go; she loves it when that happens. Renata is always working on a new novel, and so far has four published books: Mean, My Sore Hush-a-Bye, Merge (FREE from B&N and Smashwords) and Myself in Blue.
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