Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, ABRAMS Kids, via NetGalley for an honest review.
Genre: YA/Teen, Fiction
Plot: The town of Glory is famous for two things: businesses that front for seedy, if not illegal, enterprises and the suicides that happen along the Indigo River. Marsden is desperate to escape the “bed-and-breakfast” where her mother works as a prostitute—and where her own fate has been decided—and she wants to give her little sister a better life. But escape means money, which leads Mars to skimming the bodies that show up along the Indigo River. It’s there that she runs into Jude, who has secrets of his own and whose brother’s suicide may be linked to Mars’s own sordid family history. As they grow closer, the two unearth secrets that could allow them to move forward . . . or chain them to the Indigo forever.
Hookers, suicide, and skimming…oh my!
Along the Indigo: A tale so doused in grittiness, it almost feels lighthearted.
A book set in present times with a town that feels stuck in the 1800’s. There is romance, there is death, and you can bet your bottom dollar there is a whole lot of detail just DRIPPING in “oh yikes”. It might just be the most depressing book that will make you weirdly happy and overjoyed.
Emotionally confused? Perfect, you’ll fit right in here.
Sixteen-year-old Marsden wants nothing more than to leave her cursed town, Glory, and to start a new life with her little sister Wynn. Living in a boarding house that provides extra services to “Johns”, Marsden works as a cook in the kitchens while her mother serves as one of the prostitutes. Now that Marsden is getting older, the boarding house owner (Nina) is taking an interest in Marsden and trying to recruit her to become one of her “girls”. But Marsden only wants to get out of Glory, and the only way she can do that is by skimming. Down from the boarding house lies the covert, a piece of land that is believed to be cursed after her great-great-grandfather murdered his family before pulling the gun on himself. Now the covert is a place the locals go to commit suicide, and Marsden and her family are looked upon by the residents of Glory as lepers. Marsden walks the covert every morning in search of bodies, and upon finding one, she will take whatever money she can find before reporting the body. But the newest body she comes across is the brother of one of her classmates, who shows up at Marsden’s door one day with an interesting request.
Weirded out by that description? Good! I assure you, this is a strange story and I don’t blame you for thinking wtf. Maybe I’m just a creepy little woman-child, but I live for these abnormal stories. So when I saw this on Netgalley I thought this book looks like a winner, and low and behold, I was right as usual. Although I am seeing mixed reviews on it because some readers can’t get past that little ol’ “prostitute” thing, and I wrote prostitute as “prostitute” because come on guys…she’s just a prostitute. I am here to calm your sensitive nerves to tell you this, there is a YA/Teen story okay? You won’t be getting any graphic prostitute moments, I promise. These are nice prostitutes. Some of the best, I’m sure.
This story really isn’t as bizarre as it sounds. To be completely honest, it’s one of the best stand-alone stories I have read in a LONG TIME. It’s different, it’s dark, but it’s lined with a sunshiny innocence that makes it feel…normal? Yes, normal. Elsie Chapman has a gift, and that gift is that she can make weird ass s**t seem completely casual. My first impression about a chapter or two into Along the Indigo, was that it felt as if it as written YEARS ago. Though it is set in present times, I couldn’t help but imagine Marsden in a ratty white dress living in a house full of women in corsets and bustle skirts. I loved that I got this impression though because it made the grittiness of the events so much more sinful. I kept picturing an old ghost town with a crooked sheriff and handsy old drunk men stumbling out of the local saloon. If that’s too inconceivable, think To Kill A Mockingbird…that actually makes more sense.
Marsden Eldridge is the main character, and MY OH MY has that girl had a rough life. Not only does everyone (including her own family) think that the covert and the Eldridge family is cursed, but they are also treated like they don’t exist. Nobody in town will hire them, which is why Marsden’s mother works as a prostitute for Nina. Eight years prior, Marsden’s father was found in the Indigo and it was reported that he drowned on his way home from gambling one night. Now Marsden’s only goal is to save enough money to get her and her sister Wynn out of Glory, in hopes that they can start fresh. Skimming bodies is how Mars makes most of her money, and it is a task she has been doing for years. It is a truly dark and heartbreaking thing to witness through the eyes of Mars, and you can’t help but still love her…even though she’s stealing money from dead bodies.
One of the newest bodies that Mars comes across is a young man named Rigby, who is the older brother of one of her classmates, Jude. After his death, Jude shows up at the boarding house in search of Marsden with a strange request. He suspects that Rigby had buried something in the covert as a child, and he wants permission from Marsden to go into the covert to find it. Here begins a complicated friendship and romance. I adore Jude and Mars. Jude is incredibly sweet and caring towards her, and their relationship is very unique and special.
I don’t want to give too much away, so I’m going to stop right there. I have seen a lot of mixed feeling, on this story, but I personally loved it and couldn’t put it down. It is SUCH an interesting story with so many layers and emotions packed into it. Though so much of what happens feels crazy and abnormal, the author does a wonderful job of making sure the reader can relate to Mars and her family. If you guys have liked some of the weirder books that I have reviewed, you MUST read Along the Indigo. This story leaves you in a twisted dreamlike state that can only be described as “comparable to seeing your ex get lit on fire. Kind of sad and scary, but mostly pretty f*****g enjoyable”.