Book Reviews: Pure Red

“I, Cassia Bernard, do solemnly swear to find pure red—my passion—this summer. Dad’s passion is art. When he’s painting, no one can reach him, not even me. My mom’s passion was the ocean. She said the ocean allows you to see whatever you want to see. That was one of the last things she ever said to me…”

Especially for someone who usually feels adrift, meeting someone with a passion—a true purpose for their life—can be unsettling. Living with someone like that is downright depressing if, like Cassia Bernard, you can’t seem to find your own guiding force. Remembering how she used to like playing pickup games of basketball, Cassia joins the summer league in hopes of discovering a love for the game. Not too far into the season, though, she suffers a bad sprain and is forced to sit it out while she recovers. During her recovery, she decides to take a ceramics class and finds something else that may call to her. While all this is happening, she’s dealing with a best friend in the gushing, obsessive new-relationship phase, her perpetually clueless father who gets so wrapped up in his art he forgets to come to her games, and Graham—a new boy who worships Cassia’s father, the famous artist, but doesn’t seem to see Cassia for herself. Will her father ever come out of his own mind long enough to really connect with her? Will Graham ever be able to see past her father long enough to ask her out? Will she ever find her calling?
Like Indigo Blues, Pure Red is more about the characters than the action. Again, I enjoyed Danielle Joseph’s prose and think she has an amazing talent for phrasing. I especially enjoyed the constant use of color and the way Cassia interpreted everything by color—including the opposing teams of the summer league. The characters were interesting and well written and although I would have enjoyed more doing, that’s not always necessary. I think the main reason this book couldn’t get to the four-star mark for me is Cassia’s passion. She states herself that finding her passion will be her goal. Honestly, the buildup was so heavy through the whole book that I really wanted an epiphany moment. I wanted everything to come together like puzzle pieces magically flying into place as she realized, “Oh, goodness! How could I have been so blind!” I didn’t get that. In fact, less than a week after reading it I had to go back to the book to make sure she actually had found her passion at all. I remembered the things she had been interested in, but the realization had been so quiet and subtle that I didn’t feel as though it meant as much to her as it should have. I liked Graham who turned out to be even more interesting at the end of the book than I thought he’d be, but her father annoyed me. That, however, was probably only because it would have driven me crazy to have my only parent be as disconnected and scatterbrained as he was. There were a couple of side characters that I felt went nowhere, but the ones that stuck through to the end made for a very interesting bunch. I recommend the book especially to anyone who likes art or color. It’s also always interesting to read something set in my area of the world (the story takes place in Miami). Overall, a good read, but I expected more from it.
Erica’s Rating: 3/5
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