Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Growing Up Fast: Every Time a Rainbow Dies

I put Rita Williams-Garcia's book Every Time a Rainbow Dies on my TBR list early last year, and now I can't remember who or what recommended it to me.

This thin novel covers a few months in adolescent Thulani's life, from his lonely isolation with only his pigeons to console him for the death of his mother through his shocking encounter with Ysa that eventually leads to friendship. His obsession with Ysa helps convince him to connect more with some of his classmates, healing him up enough to weather the next set of catastrophes when his brother abandons him.

I found Thulani's family chilling, both his loving but casually cruel mother who abandoned him and his overbearing and overwhelmed older brother forced to parent him. And although his relationship with Ysa eventually warmed into a real friendship, his pursuit of her was creepy and alienating. I also can't see his life going in very good directions; he's still very young and terrible at long term thinking, where long term is more than a week away. I prefer it as a short story, which leaves more room for hope; as a novel it was profoundly depressing. I read this quickly on an airplane trip, but immediately jumped into a romance for some optimism therapy. B+

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