LEX Copyright Iroda / LEX Copyright Office

by Barbara Dee


Sweet and compelling, with a strong emotional core and a pitch perfect voice, VIOLETS ARE BLUE is the remarkable story of a girl named Wren who must grapple with a new town, a new school, and her mother's addiction.

For twelve-year-old Wren, life is suddenly full of big changes: her parents' divorce and Dad's remarriage, her move with Mom to a new town. So she distracts herself with a new obsession: watching special effects makeup videos by internet sensation Cat FX.

Of all the fantasy characters Cat FX recreates, Wren's favorite is the mermaid, but somehow she can't duplicate Cat FX's technique. Is something missing?

When Mom insists Wren pull herself away from her laptop, Wren agrees to do makeup for the middle school production of the musical Wicked. Soon she's so involved with the show, her friendship with Poppy, and dealing with Kai's crush that she isn't focused on Mom's disappearances. Or the weird lock on Mom's bedroom door. Or the number of pill bottles in Mom's medicine cabinet.

But when Wren can't ignore Mom's behavior any longer, she sets out to find CatFX, hoping her longtime idol will shine some light on her situation. Will Cat FX reveal the secret of the mermaid—and possibly something about real life?

From the author of the acclaimed MAYBE HE JUST LIKES YOU and MY LIFE IN THE FISH TANK comes a moving and relatable novel about secrets, family, and the power of forgiveness.


“A carefully crafted blend of realism, age-appropriate sensibilities, and children’s interests.”

– Kirkus

“Perfect for readers looking for something a little extra special.”

– Booklist

"Once again, Barbara Dee writes about important topics with intelligence, nuance, and grace. She earned all the accolades for Maybe He Just Likes You and will earn them for My Life in the Fish Tank too."

- Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, author of Newbery Honor Book The War That Saved My Life

"Author Barbara Dee deftly weaves in themes of friendship, family, and secrets, while also reminding us all to accept what we can't control. I truly loved every moment of this emotional and gripping novel, with its notes of hope that linger long after the last page."

- Lindsay Currie, author of The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street and Scritch Scratch

"My Life in the Fish Tank rings true for its humor, insight, and honesty. Zinny is an appealing narrator, and her friendships with supporting characters are beautifully drawn."

- Laura Shovan, author of Takedown and A Place at the Table

"This touching novel will go a long way in providing understanding and empathy for young readers. Highly recommended."

- Donna Gephart, award-winning author of Lily and Dunkin and The Paris Project


"The most unforgettable middle grade of 2019."

- Colby Sharp, Nerdy Book Club

"[A] timely, sensitively wrought novel...Easily grasped scenarios and short chapters help make this timely #MeToo story accessible to a wide audience."

- Publishers Weekly, starred review

"This timely exploration of a...common experience should begin some useful conversations."

- Kirkus

"In Maybe He Just Likes You, Barbara Dee sensitively breaks down the nuances of a situation all too common in our culture--a girl not only being harassed, but not being listened to as she tries to ask for help. This well-crafted story validates Mila's anger, confusion, and fear, but also illuminates a pathway towards speaking up and speaking out. A vital read for both girls and boys."

- Veera Hiranandani, author of the Newbery Honor-winning The Night Diary

"Mila is a finely-drawn, sympathetic character dealing with a problem all too common in middle school. Readers will be cheering when she takes control! An important topic addressed in an age-appropriate way."

- Katherine Brubaker Bradley, author of the Newbery Honor-winning The War That Saved My Life

"Mila's journey will resonate with many readers, exploring a formative and common experience of early adolescence that has too often been ignored. Important and empowering."

- Ashley Herring Blake, author of Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World

"Maybe He Just Liks You is an important, timeless story with funny, believable characters. Mila's situation is one that many readers will connect with. This book is sure to spark productive conversations."

- Dusti Bowling, author of Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

"In this masterful, relatable and wholly unique story, Dee shows how one girl named Mila finds empowerment, strength, and courage within. I loved this book."

- Elly Swartz, author of Smart Cookie and Give and Take

"Maybe He Just Likes You is the perfect way to jumpstart dialogue between boy and girl readers about respect and boundaries. This book is so good. So needed! I loved it!"

- Paula Chase, author of So Done, Dough Boys

"Do not be afraid to put this book in the hands of every reader regardless of age or gender. With Maybe He Just Likes You, Barbara Dee has created a book that will define this generation, much like Judy Blume defined mine."

- Kathleen March, Anderson's Bookshop

"This is a book that all middle school-aged students should read and discuss...Highly Recommended." - School Library Connection

"An important read with great potential for classroom use." - School Library Journal

MAYBE HE JUST LIKES YOU has sold in the following territories: Brazil (Globo), Israel (Simson), Korea (Danielstone), Turkey (Dogan Kitap).