Saturday 18 February 2017

BOOK REVIEW: She's Like a Rainbow by Eileen Colucci

She's Like a Rainbow
Author: Eileen Colucci
Genre: YA/NA Coming of Age

Book Description:
“The summer I turned ten, my life took a fairy tale turn.”

So begins Reema Ben Ghazi’s tale set in Morocco, SHE'S LIKE A RAINBOW. Reema awakes one morning to find her skin has changed from whipped cream to dark chocolate. From then on, every few years she undergoes another metamorphosis, her color changing successively to red, yellow and ultimately brown. What is the cause of this strange condition and is there a cure? Does the legend of the White Buffalo have anything to do with it? As Reema struggles to find answers to these questions, she confronts the reactions of the people around her, including her strict and unsympathetic mother, Lalla Jamila; her timid younger sister, Zakia; and her two best friends, Batoul and Khalil. At the same time, she must deal with the trials of adolescence even as her friendship with Khalil turns to first love. One day, in her search for answers, Reema discovers a shocking secret – she may have been adopted at birth. As a result, Reema embarks on a quest to find her birth mother that takes her from twentieth-century Rabat to post-9/11 New York.

Reema’s humanity shines through her story, reminding us of all we have in common regardless of our particular cultural heritage. SHE'S LIKE A RAINBOW, which will appeal to Teens as well as Adults, raises intriguing questions about identity and ethnicity.

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I'll be honest and say that this book surprised me, in a good way. Before the author approached me with a review request, I'd seen the book once before when I'd hosted a tour stop on my blog, but I never paid much attention to it as the cover didn't grab my attention. But when I read the blurb, it definitely got my attention because of the unusual situation the character finds herself in. Here we have a girl named Reema, who, at the age of ten, starts to experience a bizarre anamoly when her skin tone starts changing every year. It's not a fantasy story. This is a story about family, prejudice and acceptance. The story doesn't explore the reason behind Reema's pigmentation disorder but we learn some way into the story that her condition is hereditary.

Set in Morocco and New York, She's Like a Rainbow takes readers on a journey of discovery. Reema's inquisition into the nature of her disorder leads her down a path that not only explains her mother's apathetic behaviour throughout her life but also uncovers a shocking web of deceit that alters her life in more ways than she could ever have imagined.

The book started off very well. I got into the story right away as there was no delay in revealing Reema's condition. We learn right from the start that Reema is the black sheep of the family. We're made to believe that it's because of her fair skin tone, so when Reema's skin starts to become darker and her mother's behaviour becomes more hostile and distant, she feels confused as she believed her darker tone would have made her and her mother grow closer, being that they now looked similar. Even worse, Reema's metamorphosis attracts the wrong attention at school, and thus begins the bullying. Reema spends years trying to find a cure for her disorder but gets nowhere until she happens upon a clinic where a nurse reveals a shocking allegation that turns Reema's world upside down. Reema learns that her condition may be genetic. But how could that be when none of her family have ever exhibited such a disorder? Well, you'll have to read the book to find out.

I must say, the twist was called for. I would have given up on it had the author not gone down this route. It just brought more life to the story. It was getting boring up until the point where the twist came in. I wasn't getting much from Reema's character, and I didn't find her engaging enough. She's a girl that has experienced prejudice her entire life but she seemed neither submissive or assertive. Either one would have been fine. Her story is a compelling one but her character was lacking presence for the most part. How did her condition pave the way for the choices she made? Mostly, we get to hear what others think of Reema but what did she think of herself?

Like I said, it was great that the twist popped up when it did as it gave Reema something to yearn for. She finally started to take the lead. There was finally moments that had intentions behind them. The final few chapters of the book was a little unstimulating, so I kind of tuned out at this point, but overall, the story had a lot of depth and I enjoyed it. I would have liked it to have been a bit more visual and for Reema to have brought more of her personality to the stage so we could experience more of the internal conflict as opposed to the external conflict we were accustomed to seeing. It was a good story with an interesting premise.


Award: Silver
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Source: Review copy via author

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