It has been just over one month since the debut of Blue Sky Days! I had promised the author I would review her novel, but then I realized it would be practically impossible to do so. I was one of the editors for her book, I saw this go through various stages as a manuscript before it ever became the ebook it is today, however would I manage an unbiased review?
So I am saying this upfront that this analysis of Blue Sky Days may not be completely impartial and will probably be more about the difference from when I first saw this book-to-be to the book-that-is.
Synopsis: Emma Ward is a nineteen-year-old girl with no direction. She has spent her whole life doing what her mother wants that Emma now has no idea what she wants for herself. On a journey to find a life of her own, Emma goes to visit her quirky Aunt Daisy and ends up meeting Nicholas. Emma falls crazy in love and finds happiness in the small town, but when Nicholas is diagnosed with cancer Emma learns what it is to be strong.
Author: Marie Landry is a small town girl with big dreams of becoming an author. Not wanting to wait to get her stories to the public, Marie is self-publishing her debut novel Blue Sky Days.
Writing Style: Marie has a tendency to use a repetitive sentence-structure, yet she is consistent with it and seems to take on a modus operandi aspect. She also strictly adheres to using the word “said” for every characters’ speech, but in doing so it prevents the necessity of thinking up a variety of creative ways to say the same exact thing and it works.
Editor’s Note: The first draft I saw was pretty good, but comparing it to the final draft that passed through my hands is like the difference between an A-class major motion film and a B-rated flick. The end product just took on a je ne sais quoi aura that gave the novel real “it” factor that was missing in its earlier entities.
Plot: This story-line is rather two-fold in that it has intertwining and equally important tales to tell. The first is Emma’s quest for a discovery of self; bildungsroman in that it is about the heroine growing up. The second is the love story between Emma and Nicholas -very “meet cute” boy sees girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl have an obstacle to overcome.
Location: The novel starts in a suburb near Toronto, but moves northward to Riverview where Emma’s Aunt Daisy lives. This small town is a throw-back to the fifties and has not only a slower pace, but a friendlier vibe than the big city.
Character: Let me put it this way, Nicholas will give any storybook hero a run for their money. He is like the dream boyfriend that every girl wishes for, and every parent will approve of as the love of their daughter’s life. He is kind, loving, brave, supportive, chivalric, and just plain ol’ swoon-worthy.
Point of View: This novel is told in first-person though the eyes and mind of Emma Ward. Emma’s written voice seems to be a cross between telling what happened as though it were in the past and telling it as it happens like its occurring in the present making for an interesting way of “talking” to the reader.
Character Development: Emma flat-out states from the beginning that she is a boring and studious person, though we never really see that. The Emma that the reader is introduced to is one that is struggling to find her way into life. As the novel progresses Emma goes through different experiences that bring a change in her, it is gradual and believable as the reader is experiencing it alongside Emma.
Romance: Emma and Nicholas have the kind of relationship I’d always wanted myself; the improbable love-at-first-sight-instant-meeting-of-souls phenomenon that steadily grows into an enduring and lasting forever type of love which only happens when two people truly know each other. It is the end result you get when you take Romeo and Juliet combined with The Notebook.
Theme: If there is a moral to this story, it has to be either “Never give up” or “Love concurs all”.
DiY: Emma gets an interest in photography when she picks up an old camera and starts playing around with it, only to find out she has a talent for the art. Rummage around your own home to find a camera and go try to capture the same photos that Emma takes or whatever else catches your eye.
Note to Reader: Make sure you have snacks on hand when you read this book, because it can and will make you hungry with all the delicious-sounding food that is mentioned throughout.
Quote: “When I close my eyes and try to picture myself in a few years, it’s just blank.”
The Verdict: Blue Sky Days is a wonderful novel that is a privilege to read. It is commercial enough to have been company-published, but intensely personal in the way self-published books can be. If you like romance and chick lit, young adult, or Lurlene McDaniel novels, then you will like this one.