For this week’s Teenfunked Thursday, Mair Kelly checks out Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black.
Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black is a modern-day take on the old tale of meeting the devil at the crossroads. I really like when stories are based on myths and folktales and so this book instantly appealed to me as I hadn’t read anything with this idea before.
Blue Riley is a 17-year-old girl living with her aunt in Southern America. She longs to find her sister, Cass who upped and left two years ago. Blue hasn’t heard from Cass and decides to ask the devil for help to find her, like she believed her sister did. The devil in this story isn’t the kind you’d expect and in return for her help (which turn out to be a magical pair of boots) they take Blue’s voice. Blue then leaves her sheltered country home and takes to the road with only a view precious keepsakes, her mother guitar, guided along the way by her magical boots.
Throughout her journey to find Cass, Blue meets new friends, but always burdened by the devil’s deal, and it’s tendency to change it, she can never stay long and must always stay on the road looking for Cass. Through this journey, Blue learns the real value of friends and family through the different people she meets and finds her own music after always having the looming presence of her mother and sister’s talent over her head and she finds herself while she looks for her sister.
Blue is a very likeable character, she’s a talented musician but always compares herself to her mother and sister. She’s determined and kind and I like the way she interacts with the many interesting characters she meets on her journey. The author creates an array of realistic people who the reader can imagine meeting along the road: women escaping their abusers, a transgender runaway as well as some more sinister characters. All these characters have a genuine feel about them and they all help Blue gradually realise the importance and worth that family has. The book also raises awareness of issues like the fear abuse victims have to go through to escape their abusers and how many transgender children are rejected by their parents; the conflict of religion is also thrown into the mix.
I enjoyed the magical aspect to the story and really loved this new, fresh take on the devil at the crossroads tale and the way it entangles an old folk tale with modern-day life and its problems.
There were some really unique ideas, especially with regards to the devil, but I won’t go into to much into detail, so as not to spoil the surprise! I would definitely recommend this book to my friends and perhaps my school as I feel it would be a worthwhile read for many teenagers and I look forward to reading more of Jennifer Mason-Black’s work in the future.