by Caridad Ferrer
I was originally attempting to get into Ash by Malinda Lo, but I thought the writing (or probably just me) couldn’t get engaged. So I thought, maybe I’ll try another book, and if doesn’t work I’ll just switch tasks until I’m more in the reading mood. Little did I know the whirlwind that would ensue because from the very first pages I plunged into Soledad’s—passionate, emotional Soledad—world.
A dancer driven to succeed.
A musical prodigy attempting to escape his past.
The summer they share.
And the moment it all goes wrong.
Dance is Soledad Reyes’s life. About to graduate from Miami’s Biscayne High School for the Performing Arts, she plans on spending her last summer at home teaching in a dance studio, saving money, and eventually auditioning for dance companies. That is, until fate intervenes in the form of fellow student Jonathan Crandall who has what sounds like an outrageous proposition: Forget teaching. Why not spend the summer performing in the intense environment of the competitive drum and bugle corps? The corps is going to be performing Carmen, and the opportunity to portray the character of the sultry gypsy proves too tempting for Soledad to pass up, as well as the opportunity to spend more time with Jonathan, who intrigues her in a way no boy ever has before.
But in an uncanny echo of the story they perform every evening, an unexpected competitor for Soledad's affections appears: Taz, a member of an all-star Spanish soccer team. One explosive encounter later Soledad finds not only her relationship with Jonathan threatened, but her entire future as a professional dancer.
My Expectations: this was an unsolicited review copy so I don't really know what to expect, except I loved the cover.
Delivery: Whoa, blew my expectations out of the water! It was absolutely wonderful :)
When the Stars Go Blue swept me off my feet: it was a beautiful and raw novel with such a strong main character and a well-developed plot. Soledad is a dancer; she’s not a tiny anorexic ballerina, she’s a ball of energy and power, and the author successfully conveyed her character and ambitious personality so that I felt complete in tuned with her. Within the first few chapters I completely fell in love with her strength and realism.
Soledad’s voice is clear and vibrant, entirely engaging and filled with personality. I don’t know why, but I just loved one of the lines when she was calling one of the boys “that little shit” because it just felt so her, you know? I was miffed with the Spanish… most was unfamiliar for this non-speaker (think Perfect Chemistry times two). Secondary characters were by no means shoddy; they too were well-formed and lovable. I also want to touch on the fact that I admired how all the POC are so much more than their ethnicity.
While Ferrer managed to include so much into a novel— familial issues, first love, music, dance, the corps.. she makes sure that the story isn’t overwhelmed, it was Soledad’s journey with these little pieces transforming her summer and person. At first I really liked her romance with Jonathan (so cute!), though it moved a bit too fast for my tastes and I was afraid it would become clichéd. No, I wasn’t afraid, I was sure it would have a clichéd conclusion the more I read. The inclusion of the intriguingly hot soccer boy (who is awesome) just added to my adamant belief it was going to be “one of those stories”-- predictable, a bit emotional, but overall feel-good and overdone.
So imagine my surprise when things unravelled.
Man, the climax and everything that followed was such an impressive shocker for me, but this is important: it is not unbelievable. Ferrer managed to make the twist probable and even logical, the way she had developed the characters (splendidly) allowed me to think, “you know, that is actually pretty plausible… all things considered, I shouldn’t be surprised”.
So obviously I loved the intricacies of the plot. But another thing I loved was the whole vibe of the novel, the passion in the writing, the allusion to the opera Carmen (which I’m unfamiliar with), the dancing… things were intense, sexy and fiery, but there were also times of reflection and insecurity. Caridad Ferrer really managed to create a story with soul.
Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations!
Recommended for: YA Contemporary fans, people familiar with Carmen/dance/music will probably adore this too :p
Acknowledgments: Pretty good, 3.5/5
9/10 – because I was truly surprised and delighted by how good this book was. It has everything I wanted: a dynamic romance that doesn’t dominate, a strong protagonist, intriguing characters, cute ‘masochistic’ boys (love you Taz!), great and engaging voice, and a fantastic plot that moved like a dream. It dealt with issues with finesse, and oh, it has an ending that will amaze you. i wish I could ramble on forever, I can’t recommend this enough!!
author website / twitter
inspiration for the title :)