While I Will Call It Georgie’s Blues deals with a severely dysfunctional family, it is a significant book for all young people in its examination of the communication problems between youths and adults. The battle of secrecy versus honesty is at the book’s core, and the dangers and difficulties of creating a façade are illustrated by the action of the plot.
The themes of secrecy and honesty are defined by three characters: Reverend Sloane, Neal, and Georgie. Reverend Sloane is so concerned with the unrealistic façade of perfection that truth has become something alien to him. When rumors of family troubles arise, he never stops to realize that the rumors are partially true.
Oppressed by his father but also his own fear of how his love of music will be received, Neal maintains his secret as his public image slowly crumbles. He has reached a point at which he can no longer act as the perfect preacher’s son who never gets into trouble. Despite his own secrecy, however, he despises his father’s façade and realizes its damaging effects.
While he is the character most removed from reality, Georgie is also the one who sees things clearly. While his interpretation of it seems delusional, Georgie is aware of his family’s falsity. It is his exposure of the truth as much as his inability to cope with his father’s harshness that brings the Sloane family much needed change and that frees Neal of his self-imposed restrictions. When Neal plays “Georgie’s Blues,” he is unleashing at last a song of truth.
Neal Sloane is a hero with whom many young readers will identify. He suffers the awkwardness of feeling out of place and is preparing to embark on a course that he fears will be misunderstood, despite reassurances from his mentor, Mrs. T.
While it deals with grim subjects, the novel is ultimately an illustration of spiritual triumph in the face of dark conditions.