Ethan Ford is considered a hero in Monroe, a small Massachusetts town. Working as a carpenter, he is dependable and honest. In his spare time, he coaches the school baseball team in which his son plays and volunteers at the fire department. He has saved many lives and only his modesty makes him refuse to be honored publicly. He is also the perfect husband, devoted to his wife of thirteen years.

But one summer day, the Fords’ life is altered forever: as Ethan is about to leave home to go to work, a few local men stand on his doorstep to arrest him: someone recognized him on a TV program on unsolved crimes; he seems to be the perfect likeness of a murderer searched for the past fifteen years…

Ethan’s wife Jorie and their son Collie are shattered and stunned in disbelief, and the whole town feels betrayed. Everyone has a memory of Ethan doing a good deed, helping a neighbor, or saving a person in danger. Now they have to confront the fact that they have been fooled all along. They will have to come to terms with Ethan’s past, and choose where they stand in relation to him…

Blue Diary raises the question of how well one knows the people nearest to him or her. Anita Shreve’s The Pilot’s Wife did that already, more effectively. Here, the transformation of Ethan from a selfish and ruthless womanizer into a devoted and heroic father and husband is difficult to buy. However, Alice Hoffman has a pleasant style that keeps us reading. I have read one of Hoffman’s books previously; Here On Earth, and I liked that it was inspired from one of my favorite classics, Wuthering Heights. In Blue Diary however, the characters lack depth, some of their motivations remain obscure: what prompted Ethan to become and remain a good man all those years? Was he never tempted to stray from perfection? How could Jorie not be curious about his past?

The story is told partly by a third person narrator, partly by Kat, the Fords’ neighbor. The only character we get to know really well is first-person narrator Kat, who is also Collie’s friend. She is a troubled little girl who lost her father the year before, and who thinks herself mean but is kind hearted.

Blue Diary is the kind of book that I found neither good nor bad, and certainly very forgettable…

Rating: 2,5/5