Blue, who has been known for all her life by Crystal—the name her white adoptive parents gave her—states that two years ago she was married to a Native man named Paul in a tipi ceremony. Paul’s family gave her a Cheyenne name which means “Blue Vapor of Life,” and now she goes by Blue. She knows very little about her birth mother other than her name—Jacquie Red Feather—which her adoptive mother told her on her eighteenth birthday. Despite learning of her Native heritage, Blue still feels white, having grown up in a suburb of Oakland living a life of privilege and luxury.
Blue, like Dene and Edwin, struggles with feeling insufficiently or fraudulently Native. Her heritage is complicated by the fact that she grew up surrounded by whiteness and privilege—and yet she has formed her adult life around giving back to the Native community and searching for her own roots.
In order to feel more connected to her heritage, Blue took a job at the Oakland Indian Center. One day, she saw a job posting for a youth-services coordinator with her tribe out in Oklahoma, and decided to apply. She got the job, moved to Oklahoma, and took up with Paul—her boss—whom she soon moved in with. Every weekend, Paul, his father, and Blue would take peyote and conduct ceremonies. After Paul’s father died, Paul became abusive, and Blue returned to Oakland to escape him.
Blue’s search for the answers to the hidden parts of herself led her only to pain and suffering. She is learning, as the other characters in the novel have, that the Native community is largely marked by cyclical generational trauma which begets more and more violence and suffering.
Blue tells the story of how she escaped Oklahoma. One day, when Paul said he needed the car all day, Blue told him she’d get a ride home with a coworker—but knew she’d never return to their house. Instead, after work, she began walking down the highway towards the faraway Greyhound station with nothing but her phone and a box cutter. As she walked, she saw her coworker Geraldine driving down the road, and asked for a ride. Inside the car, Geraldine’s brother Hector was passed out in the back. Blue told Geraldine her plan, and though Geraldine warned her against leaving the protection of a marriage, she agreed to bring her to the station.
Blue knew she needed to get out of Oklahoma, and was so desperate to leave that she was willing to walk herself miles and miles to the bus station. Blue’s journey to Oklahoma, no matter how painful it was, fortified her into a stronger and more resolute person determined to take charge of her own life.
Blue fell asleep on the drive, and woke up to a struggle. Hector, disoriented, had leaned up from the backseat and was attacking Geraldine. The car swerved off the road, jumped a curb, and crashed into a car in the parking lot of a motel. Geraldine’s airbag went off, bloodying her nose, and Hector got out of the car and ran away from the wreck. When Blue pulled out her phone to call an ambulance, she saw that Paul was calling her. She answered, and he asked what she was doing in Oklahoma City—then realized Hector must have texted him. She hung up and hurried into the Greyhound station, where she went straight to the bathroom.
The disoriented Hector violently derailed Blue’s escape plan, and yet she remained determined not to give up. As Orange creates tension and chaos in these passages, he highlights how difficult it can be to regain control of a part of one’s life story that has gone off the rails.
Paul began texting and calling Blue while she tried to make a bus reservation, and though she tried to lure him away from the station by insisting, via text, that she and Geraldine had gone to a bar near the motel, she began to panic when she heard Paul open the door to the bathroom and come inside, calling her name. The woman in the stall next to Blue called out that no one was inside but her—after Paul left, Blue told the woman next to her that Paul was after her. The woman whispered to Blue that she carried mace, and would help her leave the bathroom. With the woman’s help, Blue made it onto the bus, away from Paul.
Because of a stranger’s kindness, Blue was able to make her escape and return to her hometown. The interconnectedness of people—and the shared human responsibility to support and care for one’s fellow humans, regardless of a perceived personal connection—is a cornerstone of the book’s theme of interconnectedness, coincidence, and chance.