Monday, March 13, 2006

The only book I've ever read by Rita Williams-Garcia is No Laughter Here, and I read that one because it was one of the first (if not only) books for teens to address the issue of female genital mutilation. It was a great novel, but I read it due to the subject matter, not the author's reputation (which is excellent). So, it was nice to have another Williams-Garcia novel assigned for class.
In Every Time a Rainbow Dies, Thulani, living with his brother & sister-in-law after his mother's death, has no idea where he's headed. He spends most of his time with the birds he keeps on the roof of their building; they're his closest friends. But when Thulani witnesses a rape from the safety of his rooftop retreat, he's plunged back into the real world and forced to take an interest. Scaring off the rapists and helping the girl home forms a bond between Thulani and the girl - at least he thinks so. He cares about Ysa, but Ysa is motivated and driven; she knows what she wants and is determined to succeed. Thulani is still uncertain about his own future, until the death of a neighbor and his brother's dreams for his family force Thulani to care about what happens to him.
Like so many other novels we're reading for this class, this is one I would not have picked up on my own. But I did enjoy it. The hints of Jamaican-American culture add interest and Thulani's changing relationship with his brother and, especially, his sister-in-law are wonderful to watch. I'm unsure how Williams-Garcia wants the reader to see Thulani, but I was at times sympathetic to him and at times frustrated with him. I could understand his brother & sister-in-law's frustrations with him, but I was also enraged on Thulani's behalf at how his brother sometimes treated him. Perhaps this is what Williams-Garcia wanted; it certainly give Thulani's character more depth.

Williams-Garcia, Rita. Every Time a Rainbow Dies. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2001. ISBN 0688162452 $15.95

What I'm Reading: Re-reading Boy Meats Boy by David Levithan
On My Bookshelf: that book I have to review for VOYA (still can't remember the name)


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