Monday, December 31, 2012

The Color of My Words

The Color of My Words
by Lynn Joseph

I bought this book for Kaahini (my daughter) some time ago, and she resisted reading it.  We dropped it, but then recently she picked it up herself and loved it, urging me to read it too.  I took a couple of hours one evening and did, and was surprised.

The writing has a deceptive simplicity and innocence that is quite charming, and feels almost dated -- like the early fiction by post-colonial African writers (Dominic Mulaisho, Chinua Achebe, Camara Laye).  In this case the book is aimed at a young audience, so the style is explained away.

But in fact the style holds power for an adult too, as it gently and unobtrusively reveals a story of poverty, injustice, and oppression brought home to a 12-year old girl through the trials experienced by her family.  There is also infidelity, sex for money, and hidden parenthood -- all directly impinging upon the girl's life -- without it being a tale of Third World misery and tragedy.  The ending, while not neat or happy, nonetheless imparts hope and some closure.

As I read it I was surprised how the book managed to deal with these difficult issues in a manner and a voice that a 10-year old girl could appreciate and enjoy the book.  For that, kudos to the author!  The book earns my highest rating in 2 yrs.

Nov 2012