I am so glad Carlson started writing teen literature. She has done miracles through her work. Thanks to her, we are seeing a refreshing vein in young adult Christian fiction. There is now an alternative to the bland novels that Christian authors have written in the past for teens. Either we have the Lurlene McDaniel books where everybody dies, the perky Christy Miller series, or the historical fiction like Anne of Green Gables or Christy by Katherine Marshall which has little relevance for today's teen. I know that all of these have their audience, but what was missing was Christian fiction for today's teen. What teens seem to want these days is books about REAL problems they are facing daily in their schools: drugs, sexual pressure, and self-injury.
Carlson's books fill a much needed gap. I think her books could be enjoyed by Christians or non-Christians because they feature real teens with real problems told in a non-judgmental way. Each character uses their faith to help them cope with a traumatic incident, but it is not done in a preachy way.
Blade Silver is part of the TrueColors series, in which different issues and emotions are matched with a color. That color is featured in the cover art, as well. The lead characters have all been girls, so far, with each voice written in an authentic and relatable way. Each book in the series seems better than the last.
In Blade Silver, Ruth has started cutting herself as a way to cope with the pain she is feeling. Her father verbally abuses her and her brother constantly. Her mother, also a victim, tried to kill herself and now lives in an almost catatonic state. Basically her mom sits in a bathrobe in her bedroom and sleeps all day, leaving Ruth and her brother to do all the chores and take the brunt of her husband's wrath. The reader follows Ruth as she starts to become more and more controlled by the urge to cut herself, at first only once a day and then finally three times a day. Ruth shows how a cutter thinks, wearing long sleeves to hide the slash marks, working in a detailed way to cut, stop the flow of blood, and clean up. I really like the descriptions Carlson gives of the pain Ruth is feeling inside:
Like a drug, that warm feeling rises up in me, a sense that I have control again, that everything's going to be just fine. Then I watch the red ribbon of blood for just a split second before I press the toilet paper onto it. I breath deeply, and for the moment I am fine. Perfectly fine.Ruth finally seeks help from a school counselor and ends up in a group home for girls like her. One of the counselors there ends up being a Christians, but these scenes are done in such a natural, non-preachy way that I don't think they would make anyone feel uncomfortable.
I encourage all young adult librarians to familiarize yourself with this series because they fly off the shelf at my library, and they booktalk great. I have also read Deep Blue: Color Me Lonely about a girl who is lonely when her best friend abandons her for a more popular crowd and Bright Purple: Color Me Confused, which deals with a character who learns her best friend is a lesbian. By the way, I wasn't sure if Carlson could pull off such a controversial topic without getting preachy, but she did. Thumbs up to Carlson!