Ruffles, Lydia: The Taste of Blue Light.
The Taste of Blue Light
Hodder, 2018, pp352, 7.99 [pounds sterling]
978 1 444 93676 6
A highly acclaimed debut novel traces the heroine's trajectory through mental ill health to some degree of recovery/stability suggested in the final sentence: 'Word by word, stitch by stitch, I am found.' The therapy, the treatment, is in the writing, in the recording of her thoughts, feelings, experiences--in a word, in the novel itself. Lux is a student in an Arts School which prides itself on its 'liberal ethos'. Certainly this ethos is strongly in evidence in the opening chapter which describes a leavers' ball at which there is much sexual activity --Lux deliberately loses her virginity--much alcohol and drug abuse.
More than one reviewer has drawn comparisons with Sylvia Plath and The Bell Jar. High praise and no doubt merited. But perhaps like Plath's work even, especially her most brilliant verse--the appeal of this book may be limited by the lack of universality of its subject matter. For writing to be regarded as of the highest quality, it has been suggested that it must deal with experiences common to everyone. Be that as it may, this novel may be well received by the more mature of its target audience of young adults. For others some areas of the text may prove challenging: talking about snowdrops, Lux envisages 'snapping their heads off to stop them from screaming.' There is obviously a need to consider such ideas in context --in this case the visual and aural disorientation triggered by migraine--in order to arrive at an understanding.
An interesting and unusual novel in which the writer, draws heavily--as did Sylvia Plath--on her own experience of the distress caused by mental ill health, but perhaps not for the majority of teenagers.