Published by Hodder Children’s Books.
Review by Elle Wrightson.
Indigo Donut by Patrice Lawrence is a powerful young adult novel that follows troubled protagonist, Indigo, through a traumatic childhood in the foster system after her father murdered her mother, rendering her an orphan. The novel follows strong themes of homelessness, foster care, drug abuse and romance, creating an unflinching account. It is a moving, must-read novel.
Patrice Lawrence layers the troubles Indigo faces through the opening chapters, as she is bullied at her new school due to other students knowing her past. This enhances her isolation and inner conflict as she has no friends or support. During one scene when escaping from a bully, Indigo is confronted by a teacher. Lawrence uses this scene to show how her mental state is volatile and violent as she becomes aggressive and screams: “My mum’s dead, you idiot! And my dad killed her!” By layering the protagonist’s distress from the onset, Lawrence allows you to understand and sympathise with Indigo, which is crucial to hook you into the plot.
Indigo Donut continues to include dark content, such as homelessness and the care system. These subjects draw on the author’s own experiences, giving the reader a credible and unflinching insight into a sensitive topic. The chaos present in Indigo’s life, particularly her earlier years – when she frequently moves between foster carers and schools – emphasises this. Simple remarks about her past blurring together emphasises the repercussions of a lifetime in care. As a reader you are left with a powerful sense of a loss of childhood. This, combined with her family trauma, allows you to understand her spiralling anger.
However, the author provides an emotional release through the complex relationship that grows between Indigo and Bailey. It begins as an unlikely friendship when Bailey defends Indigo, showing how a little kindness can go a long way. Lawrence emphasises this by switching between Indigo and Bailey’s point of view, showing what is going on in their minds. For example, through the novel you see Bailey’s increasing interest in Indigo, which anticipates the beginning of their friendship. This begins by Bailey asking his father about anger and its expression in order to understand Indigo’s violent outbursts. This progresses to his endless thoughts about being near and touching Indigo once a romantic relationship has developed. By doing this, Lawrence shows the power of love, as together Bailey and Indigo fight the challenges of her past.
Similarly, Keeley, Indigo’s foster carer, is a positive influence and supportive to Indigo. However, Indigo’s inner turmoil and troubled past means that she has barriers up. This results in things being hidden and remaining unspoken between Indigo and Keeley. Lawrence shows how Indigo’s negative mental state pushes her loved ones away, which emphasises the everlasting impact her mother’s murder had on her. Also, guilt and anger are present when Indigo allows herself to smile, be hugged or feel loved, emphasising her mental dismay. These factors allow Lawrence to provoke uncertainty. This leads the reader to struggle to hold onto the hope that a positive ending is possible, before winding through the mystery of Indigo’s past to an unlikely ending.
Overall, Indigo Donut is a captivating young adult novel that is packed with mystery and romance. Patrice Lawrence’s unflinching use of a troubled narrator and issues from our society, such as homelessness, allow you to hold on hope until the very end. It is a bold and moving novel, featuring strong characters. Indigo Donut is a definite must read.