Every Time A Rainbow Dies by Rita Williams Garcia 2001
IQ "There was never any peace around her. Instead he felt sick and brave at the same time, ready to jump into the unknown only to be hit." Thulani pg. 62 (An unusual feeling about love to have, right? Or is it? ;))
Every Time A Rainbow Dies starts off with sixteen year old Thulani saving Ysa after she had been raped. Since his mother died, all Thulani does is go to school (literally, he just goes to school. He doesn't actually try to achieve good grades) and care for his doves. He lives with his brother and his sister-in-law and it's not a happy situation. But there's something about Ysa that makes him want to do more than that. He doesn't even know her name but he sets out to find her. However, Ysa is hard to find and when he does find her, she doesn't want him in her life at all.
I loved the atmosphere of this book. It's set in Brooklyn but it explores a group of people that is not often shown in YA novels, that is those from the Caribbean. Thulani is Jamaican and Ysa is Haitian. Based on the dialogue I could hear the accents and the patois drifting from the page. Everyone and everything is described so well. I could clearly picture Ysa and her colorful clothes, Thulani and his birds, his 'crazy' sister-in-law and Tant Rose. All the characters have a presence, the best example is Thulani's sister-in-law, Shakira. I dismissed her because Thulani didn't like her but she surprised him and me with some of her actions. Also, this novel briefly deals with girls liking sex, it's a refreshing difference from the whole 'good girl=not liking sex or wanting to have it before marriage.' Ysa was an awesome character. She had goals and nothing was going to get in her way of achieving them, even being raped (if you've read the book, the Best Scene is hands down the one where Ysa is in the marketplace and goes off).
I realize life is full of grey areas and many situations are ever fully resolved but I wanted that to not be the case in this book. Instead, it ends on a high note of anticipation. But there's no sequel! How can this be?! I don't think this book should have cleared up everything but a sequel is definitely needed because an important scene is left to the reader's imagination, off the page. Grr. Something that did bother me is that I never understood why Thulani was so bothered by Shakira. She treated him better than his own brother, Truman did. I did think Thulani's actions were stalkerish and that was creepy. Ysa handles the situation better than I would have, and I understand how him stalking her is a sign of love (yes that is a creepy statement but I don't know how to word it better. It's nonviolent stalking!).
Every Time A Rainbow Dies has a wonderful title and explores some different types of love in Caribbean accents. This novel doesn't shy away from issues of sexuality, attitudes of Caribbeans concerning African American and family. The characters are strong and refuse to be regulated to the background. The story has a unique setting and Thulani and Ysa are unforgettable (which is why the lack of a sequel will be so distressing). High school and up.
The current situation in Haiti as faced by women and girls, courtesy of Heidi R. Kling's post (her husband is a doctor and he just got back from Haiti. He sounds like a great guy)
To Help: Donate to Doctors Without Borders or volunteer to help them. They are a fantastic organization that provides meals, vaccines and as much medical help as they can provide. We need more doctors to help out!
This is the first review of Haiti review week (reviews centered around Haitians and Haitian Americans. Included in all posts will be ways to help and links to articles about Hati's past, present and future).