Jennifer Murphy 2022
I once again grabbed a book from a display at random, and discovered that the majority of the book takes place here in my home state of Michigan – quite close to me, in fact, and I’m writing this review from one of the towns mentioned in the book. Set mainly in the charming and extremely busy tourist mecca of South Haven, Scarlet in Blue takes place in many beach towns along Michigan’s left coast.
Scarlet and Blue Lake are mother and daughter / painter and pianist, respectively. For as long 15-year old Blue can remember, they have been on the run from HIM, a shadowy figure in a black Cadillac that only Scarlet has seen. Scarlet ends the chase in an explosion of color, and Blue moves on to become a world-class pianist. Everyone must come to terms with their past though, and 46 years later Blue starts that process.
Scarlet in Blue first reads as a coming of age story or a study of the mother-daughter dynamic, but the chapter headings, which place each chapter in time relative to “the murder,” keep the reader anchored in the true nature of the story. The characters are all so deeply embedded in the narrative that none of them knows the whole truth – and as a result, neither does the reader. Is it schizophrenia or a fight to survive? Could it be both?