The first thing Karen King does in Sapphire Blue is squeeze out the fear of death and unknown, and replace it with beauty and strength. In other words, Hope. And that is as good a return one can get to the investment of time one makes in reading a story.
Karen has published over a hundred books for children - picture books, stories and all very sweet. In my opinion, authors who write for the very young, among others, are perhaps the most responsible lot. For, they understand the sensitivities of human emotion and tread about their target readers without playing with them. That requires control, and often gifts these writers with a balance of thought better than any other. Karen’s skill is evident in how smoothly she takes us through her characters’ sense of loss and confusion. She uses colours when she could use complex terms, she plays with Catchers where she could say demons, she uses names like Sapphire & Will where she could choose ones more banal. And yet, the longing, the guilt and the lessons are all very real. It serves well to remind us all that not every tragic narration needs to be gory.
After-death is a wonderful place to execute a story of love and war. After all, here you have the license to use telepathy, teleportation and a host of other mind games, to be in control of your own destiny, and to get a shot at second chances. That is exactly what the author makes use of. Yet, the place she has taken us to is not heaven. Nor is it Earth. It’s somewhere in between. This is where a spider you stamped in the bathroom comes back to seek revenge as a giant. This is where your long deceased relative comes back to shake hands. So what’s the difference?
As one of the characters points out, “angels never interfere here. It’s up to people to use their minds and get themselves out of situations.” That, in a nutshell, is Karen’s objective - to press home lessons in life through the achievements of those who did it after death, just because they began to believe they could. That is what Karen’s world is all about. Belief. Hope. And strength to rid ourselves of doubts and fixations that inhibit us. After all, it’s telling that the shade she chooses to name the zone of love is the one we use for sorrow - Blue. It’s telling that the shade she chooses to name the zone of sorrow is the one we use for love - Red.
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