Patti Davis' The Blue Door
The Blue Hour is dusk, that time between day and night that slips in silently, a few moments each day. It was Joshua Baron’s favorite time of day, a peaceful time when the world’s edges begin to blur. For an alone boy like Joshua, it was a time he was content, at one with nature and free from people, who could be bothersome.
The Blue Hour is one of those wonderful books that is part fairy tale, part allegory, part time-slip and… part mean adolescent bullying. It is for young adults and adults alike, in the way that The Little Prince, Alice in Wonderland or The Giver are. It has a clear message yet the characters, the magic and the quest are expertly woven together from the first to the last word, so the book is not moralistic. It is haunting, a perfect Halloween read.
The Barons move to small town Clearoak to escape LA and its lack of civility, charm and freedom to be safe. The run down house is rehabilitated; Josh’s room is painted blue and the townspeople hope the news family will drive away the ghosts. Yet the ghosts remain.
Joshua thinks about the boy who once lived there, Franklin Talbot, “who came home everyday to a dark house where noone smiled.” Josh thinks, “Houses have secrets. Secrets that lie under floorboards, rest deep in the soil of neglected gardens where weeds have taken over. They whisper in hallways, whistle down chimneys. You have to pay close attention to hear them, but once you do, you can’t stop listening.”
Patti Told me about her constructing this novel. “I started with a ghost story, but as soon as Franklin appeared and said why he was here as a boy and not the man he was when he died, the other pieces began falling in place. I saw him in my mind show up as a kid, and I wondered why. Then the idea that he was stuck at the age he was when his heart turned mean came to me.”
Joshua’s quest, for this is a quest novel as well, takes him through time and self-reflection. He learns about cruelty in his own life and in others. He also learns about the bonds of the heart.
Patti commented on this quest. “Joshua understands more about the human heart, and how easily it can turn mean. He understands more about death and the thin membrane between the two realms. He is, at the end, wise beyond his years, but then he was pretty wise to begin with.”
Towards the end of the novel, we read, “Joshua had learned something about hearts—something he hadn’t known before. They can travel together through time. After all, time is just another endless sky crisscrossed with vapor trails. But sometimes hearts have to pull away, go in different directions, trusting that in all that blue forever, they will find each other again.”
Home and family “are always complicated,” Patti told me, saying that everyone desires the security of a family. “Sometimes you find a family with people who aren’t related to you. Franklin ends up finding a family with Joshua and is able to fix his heart.”
Even when Joshua’s friend is a ghost.
A perfect seasonal meal is our hearty and homey Pumpkin Harvest Soup, great on a night when ghosts are roaming in the graveyards.