A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Out of the Blue is a debut novel about a bi-racial family (Sri-Lankan and white British) that encounters a possible angel who's fallen to Earth. The main character, Jaya, is lesbian, 17, and compassionate toward the Being she's found. She decides to hide her from crazy cults that beat their members and make them stage suicide attempts on rooftops -- one man falls to his death in front of Jaya. Jaya trusts teh secret with two new friends -- an LGTBQ teen girl with cystic fibrosis and her twin brother -- with the secret, and not her own father. After the recent loss of Jaya's mother from a drowning accident, he's obsessed with locating the Beings and showing them to the world. There's some swearing, including the occasional "f--k," and some teen drinking mentioned. Dad drinks a big glass of whiskey when he's upset. LGBTQ characters kiss. Dealing with loss is a big theme, and compassion wins out over fear of the unknown. Out of the Blue also shows our modern media-obsessed world as it is, greedy for gossip and profit, and how resisting its power is redemptive.
What's the story?
In OUT OF THE BLUE, mysterious winged creatures are falling to Earth with broken wings and dying on impact. A media frenzy has taken hold around the world, and Jaya and her family are suddenly in the middle of it. Since the first Being fell just after Jaya's mother died in a freak accident, Jaya's father takes it as a sign. He quits his job, researches the Beings, and then drags Jaya and her younger sister, Rani, to Edinburgh for the summer holidays. He's sure that another will fall soon nearby, and he and his fanatical friends -- Jaya calls them "Wingdings" -- will find a way to save it and show the world. After a fight with her father over his obsession, Jaya runs out of their rented flat to the woods and a Being drops down right in front of her. She's injured but still alive. Worried about her safety -- there are worse groups out hunting for Beings than the Wingdings -- Jaya decides to hide the Being and tell no one but a teen girl and her twin brother. They're the only ones she's met who talk about the Beings with compassion. While Jaya thinks she's made the right decision, what will it do to her father if he ever finds out?
Is it any good?
This story is well-paced and often satisfying emotionally as a family dealing with loss begins to recover, but leaves much of the fantasy part unexplored. Readers will not know much more about the Beings than they did at the beginning of the story, and they don't seem to do anything alien and cool. There's a character with cystic fibrosis that needs help and, while it may have been a bit cliche to go there, many readers will expect something to happen there.
If you turn your fantasy expectations off -- good luck -- Jaya and Allie are great characters to root for and focus on instead. It's nice to see lesbian teens get the main love story, and for it just to feel like a regular love story. This weaves in well with the struggle of a father to reconnect with his daughters. The full flashback to the mother's death could have come sooner -- there's not much mystery behind what happened by the reveal -- but Out of the Blue still wraps up in a satisfying way. With some supernatural help, the long process of healing for this family has begun.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the media frenzy surrounding the Beings in Out of the Blue. Why do Jaya's father and sister embrace it? Why does Jaya resist it?
Few explanations are given in the end about the Being. Why do you think the author chose to leave so much to the reader's imagination?
If Beings fell to Earth, how would you react? How would your family and friends react?
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