Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

A Solitary Blue explores the psychological damage inflicted upon an only child by deficient parents. Spanning approximately ten years, the novel begins when seven-year-old Jeff Greene comes home from school one day to find a note from his mother, Melody, explaining that she has left him to continue her serious social work. Abandoned by the mother that he adores and fearful of losing his remaining parent, Jeff withdraws. Over a period of four years, Jeff and his father, the Professor, assume an orderly and mirthless routine, broken only by the occasional visits of the Professor’s colleague, Brother Thomas. An invitation to spend the summer in Charleston with his mother promises to change everything.

The summer is a magical one for Jeff. He is captivated by his mother’s warm, spontaneous charm and by the music that she plays on the guitar. After a few days, however, Melody is again busy with her “causes.” Jeff is largely left to fend for himself until the end of the summer, when Melody exchanges his airline ticket for a bus ticket and sends him back to Baltimore without any traveling money. Nevertheless, Jeff adores his mother so much that he overlooks her self-centered behavior.

In Baltimore for another school year, Jeff writes Melody numerous letters, to which he receives no reply. Her rejection is softened somewhat by the friendship of Brother Thomas, who provides guidance and good humor to both Jeff and the Professor. In his...

(The entire section is 485 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The setting of A Solitary Blue is integral to the story and its themes. The story begins in Baltimore, then moves between Charleston,...

(The entire section is 500 words.)

Literary Qualities

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Voigt has been described in the New York Book Review as "a wonderful writer with powerfully moving things to say." The wide variety of...

(The entire section is 276 words.)

Social Sensitivity

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Melody's early abandonment of her child and her later betrayal of his trust create perhaps the most sensitive issue in A Solitary...

(The entire section is 376 words.)

Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Are Jeff's personality characteristics more like his father's or his mother's? Who do you think he wants to be more like at the beginning...

(The entire section is 105 words.)

Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Why do the Professor and Jeff decide to move to the small house on the Chesapeake Bay? How does this quiet setting affect Jeff?


(The entire section is 97 words.)

Related Titles / Adaptations

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

A Solitary Blue is the third of six books that deal with the Tillerman family. Each book depicts many of the same characters but...

(The entire section is 162 words.)

For Further Reference

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Donahue, Rosanne. "New Realism in Children's Fiction." In Masterworks of Children's Literature, edited by William T. Moynihan and Mary...

(The entire section is 241 words.)