Blue Sun, Yellow Sky by Jamie Jo Hoang is a deep novel about passion, vocation and discovering your life purpose.
When up and coming artist, Aubrey Johnson, is informed by her doctor that she is going blind her whole world begins to take on a new shape and meaning. Knowing that there is no cure and nothing that the medical world can do for her. She begins to wonder what to do or how this medical development will change things she takes a long lost friend up on his offer to travel the world with him.
Getting on a plane headed to China the pair attempt to rekindle their friendship. Seeing the world in six weeks Aubrey keeps her condition secret from childhood friend, Jeff, until she finds the “right time”.
During throughout the book Aubrey wonders what she is going to do with her life once she cannot see. She wonders how this will affect her art, her life, her career. They visit many of the great wonders of the world and the detailed descriptions of the sights are overlaid with the beautiful prose of self discovery and soul searching.
Unsurprisingly Aubrey’s lack of disclosure about her condition throws a wrench in the works when Jeff finally finds out. Just as they begin to become romantically interested in each other.
Aubry’s journey around the world and of herself is haunted by her parents who imparted much wisdom upon her as a child and shaped who she was as an artist.
There is even a scene where she and Jeff recreate a story that her father would tell her at night about Paris.
As they travel Aubrey paints, possibly for the last time, in an attempt to capture her journey around the world and around her emotions.
This is a wonderfully written novel about self discovery, bravery in the face of change and finding your life’s purpose. All written with a travelling backdrop.
Jamie writes in a beautiful voice of sorrow, confusion and hope. I felt like not only had she visited the places she describes, but also that she had felt the kind of struggle that Aubrey does in the book.
As someone who has personally suffered from having to entirely reroute my life and redefine my identity due to a huge external experience I really related to this book. The feeling of hope throughout the entire book is uplifting and had me in tears a few times.
This is a must read book. Especially for those at a fork in the road in their lives or having an existential crisis.
Travellers will love the world discovery aspect of this book and the accurate experiences of the different cultures, social structures and history. Just a note to people who may be squeamish there is a point in the story where Aubrey and Jeff try foods in China that might be a tad confronting to readers such as worms and bird fetuses. Otherwise the food aspect of the different cultures was another thing that Jamie nails perfectly in her descriptions of the experiences. I felt like I too was enjoying some of the delicious foods.
Jamie has a wonderful way of describing architecture, emotion and experiences without being too obvious about what is happening. Things that are meant to be mysterious stay mysterious until they need to be revealed without frustrating the reader.
This is a book that accurately describes the human experience and how we, as people, think and question our lives and world around us.
Blue Sun, Yellow Sky captures what it means to be a human in this new and turbulent world as a creative individual.
Reviewed by Anne John-Ligali