Title: Rosie Colored Glasses
Author: Brianna Wolfson
Publisher: Harlequin (Mira) Books
Publication Date: February 20, 2018
Genre: Literary Fiction, Mental Illness
Rating: 5 Stars
I received an ARC copy of Rosie Colored Glasses in exchange for an honest review. Thanks goes to NetGalley as well as Harlequin Books for this advanced copy which is expected to be released February 20, 2018.
Readers captivated by Bernadette in Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go… or Oskar in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close will embrace Rosie and Willow in this powerful debut novel about love, loss and the human heart.
Rosie Colored Glasses is at once whimsical and heartbreaking. Eleven year old Willow’s marrow burns with the friction of having to navigate the two homes of her newly divorced parents, when all she truly wants is to be with her mother Rosie. Rosie makes everything shine brighter and makes Willow feel special, feel loved…until Rosie’s own demons begin to surface and overtake her.
As Willow struggles to make sense of her world of extreme love and extreme loneliness, she learns how sometimes all the love in the world is not enough to save someone, no matter how hard one wishes for it… how the human heart can bend and break, but how it can also heal and is resilient enough to love again.
Rosie Colored Glasses is a story within a story, and neither can do without the other.
Twelve years ago a dreamy, yet troublesome love story between two unlikely figures unravels. Rosie, a quirky and carefree gal working in a flower shop can’t seem to remain in one place for long enough. Rex is the absolute antithesis of Rosie – serious, determined, and completely ‘with it.’ Rosie and Rex both know their relationship will not end well, but neither have the will power to disengage themselves from the other.
A harmonic yet sentimental relationship unfolds, beginning with Rosie’s decision to attach a Cummings poem to Rex’s girlfriends flower bouquet against Rex’s will. Result? Rex’s girlfriend gets dumped in a heart beat and it’s all Rosie and Rex. And the occasional pill-popping an weed-inhaling to turn love against itself and into fatal, and I mean fatal in the literal sense of the word, catastrophe.
Let us fast forward twelve years to the present. Action: Rosie gives birth to a girl, Willow and then later a boy, Asher. Willow and her brother are shared by her divorced parents. Willow prefers her mother over her father while her brother is content just about anywhere and does not seem to tell the difference whether he is at his mom or his dad’s home. Willow is a fifth grader who is a loner at school, still wets her pants, and wears the same purple leggings and black t-shirt to school everyday. She is wholeheartedly attached to her mother and share’s her mom’s sweet tooth for Pixy Stix and Thursday Pizza Night.
Told in the third person, both stories slowly converge as the author traverses such themes as mental illness, addiction, and suicide – all which tear this family apart only to bring them closer together by the end. I loved the structure of this stories and the chill I felt in some of the chapters. Wolfson portrayal of mental illness and the turmoil it can cause a family beautifully. There were multiple moments where I found myself gasping, aching, and longing to reach out to the family. The perspectives are diverse and do not leave any questions unanswered – be it Rex, Rosie, or Willow. Wolfson dives into the character’s minds and illustrates their suffering in such an evocative manner that it was impossible for me not to get choked up at certain parts.
Love in Rosie Colored Glasses is defined in the most obscure sense of the word. There is romance, mother-daughter love, friendship and even love masked by hatred. Emotions that I never even know could be dug out of my conscious rose to the surface in the parts describing Rosie’s mental decline and her ultimate decision to escape fro m the world that had at the same time caused her pain and joy. Willow’s strength and determination comes, ironically from her father as she witnesses her mom’s highs and lows. She amazingly holds herself together and finds the courage to take care of her brother and ignore the stares and brutal comments about her on the school playground. All Willow wants is love. She tries desperately to hold onto her mother and no matter how had she tries, she finds herself lost in a maze of circumstances which are altogether dangerous and risky for her young heart.
Wolfson’s writing is raw and deep. I felt as though I was entering into the character’s minds and perceiving events as they were happening – in real time. Taking that this book alternates narrative voice, I was very impressed at the way in which Wolfson was successful in adapting the story’s tone to the character of focus. Rosie’s parts were scattered, depressing, and fairy-tale like. Rex’s was serious, logical, and altogether made the most sense. Willow’s was just so real and spiritual that I loved her’s the most. There were times in this book that I found myself skipping ahead to find out what happens to the characters. It’s hard to believe that this book is a work of fiction – it all just seemed so real to me as my tears were as I read.
Between Rosie’s dependence on opiates, Rex’s struggle with expressing his love for his daughter, and Willow’s sole desire to love and be loved, Rosie Colored Glasses is a delicate and shattering tale about the meanings of love and the multiple paths one takes and stumbles upon to achieve it. I recommend it to all my readers – young and mature for the simple reason that it will affect you mentally and emotionally, and change the way you perceive yourself in relation to your loved ones forever.
(Book image credits go to Goodreads)