A few months ago, I listened to a Danielle Steel book called Royal (read my review here); it was the first time in about 30 years since I had touched anything by Steel. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the book, even though it was formulaic. I decided to seek out a few other Steel books to read or listen to whenever I needed a break from heavier reading. Blue (AbeBooks) (Amazon) was on sale on audiobook a while back, so I snagged it. I can never resist a good deal on an ebook or audiobook, but if I expected a light, formulaic romance, I was in for a big surprise with this book.
From the publisher: “Ginny Carter was once a rising star in TV news, married to a top anchorman, with a three-year-old son and a full and happy life in Beverly Hills—until her whole world dissolved in a single instant on the freeway two days before Christmas. In the aftermath, she pieces her life back together and tries to find meaning in her existence as a human rights worker in the worst areas around the globe.
Then, on the anniversary of the fateful accident—and wrestling with the lure of death herself—she meets a boy who will cause her life to change forever yet again. Thirteen-year-old Blue Williams has been living on the streets, abandoned by his family, rarely attending school, and utterly alone. Following her instincts, Ginny reaches out to him. Leery of everyone, he runs from her again and again. But he always returns, and each time, their friendship grows.
Blue glows with outsized spirit and an irresistible mix of innocence and wisdom beyond his years. Ginny offers him respect as they form an unusual bond and become the family they each lost. But just as Blue is truly beginning to trust her, she learns of a shocking betrayal that he has been hiding. Is it a wound too deep to heal, or will she be able to fight the battle that will make them both whole again?”
Danielle Steel strayed from her usual tales of romance and star-crossed lovers living a life of opulence. Sure, that’s the life Ginny had before the book starts, but a year later, when the story begins, her life has drastically changed. Her high-profile and high paying job in Beverly Hills are gone, her husband and young son dead, and she’s still grieving. She’s been working as a human rights worker across the globe and making New York her home base. There’s a lot of talk about global affairs and the Middle East in this book, which is unusual in a Steel book. But despite the good work she’s doing, she’s still feeling suicidal over her loss. Until she meets Blue.
Blue Williams is a 13-year old runaway that has lived a rough life and is living on the streets. His parents are gone, his aunt and her new boyfriend don’t have room in their one bedroom apartment with several other kids, nor do they want him, so he faces the world on his own. Ginny immediately wants to help this boy/man, but Blue fights her along the way and runs away more than once, only to return later. They have to learn to trust each other.
Finally, when Blue feels he can trust Ginny, he reveals to her his secret: he’d been repeatedly abused by a Catholic priest when he was younger. I thought the journey of the lawsuit against the church and the the priest accused was a little too easily done, with very little investigation and documentation, and the end result wasn’t really believable, which makes it more like a typical Danielle Steel book. In real life, the Catholic Church, at least in our area, will file counter suits against victims, accusing them of having mental health problems, and double down on the fact that priest abuse is in the past and what’s done is done: victims aren’t owed anything and complicit priests do not need to be removed. (I may be projecting a little, but I know one victim of abuse, and what I just wrote is his story; he is literally being sued by the church for speaking out).
Kudos to Steel for writing about something different and not forcing a romance into the narrative. This is a love story, but it’s between a broken woman a broken child that the world had given up on. I’m glad I have it in my collection and will revisit the story in the future.
This is the 31st Audiobook I’ve listened to as part of my 2021 Audiobook Challenge.
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