The Colours That Blind
by Rutendo Tavengerwei
Thirteen-year-old Tumirai lives with his protective big brother, Mkoma in Harare, Zimbabwe. He’s the first albino kid ever to have attended his school and constantly feels like an outsider.
When his brother is invited to go travelling for work, Tumirai goes to stay with their grandmother, Ambuya Thandie. She is scarred, in more ways than one, but her memory is a treasure trove – and her stories of Zimbabwe’s war for independence are a long, long way from the history Tumirai has heard before.
“The Colours That Blind” tells the story of fourteen year old Tumi, who has albinism. Tumi is living in present day Zimbabwe and his story is intertwined with the story of his grandmother Thandiwe in 1975 Rhodesia during the war for independence.
This is young adult fiction, but it certainly doesn’t shy away from some difficult subjects, including finding your identity in the face of discrimination. The history of Zimbabwe includes some horrific atrocities committed by the while minority rule and while this isn’t explored graphically, it’s still a powerful and important story to tell. I feel like this would be a good read for schools or book clubs, as there’s a lot to discuss, especially following the recent Black Lives Matter movement.
I liked the plot of the story the most and I really felt the pain and suffering that these characters went through, but considering the book as a whole, I struggled with it a little. I felt that dipping in and out of the two timelines confused me at times and I lost track more than once.
I also struggled with some of the terminology and there were a few words that I couldn’t understand from context, so when I reached the end I found that there was a glossary, I was annoyed at myself for not looking for it sooner! Perhaps these translations would have been better as footnotes, or the glossary could have just been at the beginning of the book to highlight that it’s there before you start. My advice for you is, if you’re going to read this one, take a flick to the end of the book as you’ll probably find the glossary quite useful!
I wanted to enjoy this one more than I did, but the story itself was still an educational one, highlighting some important topics that I definitely need to do some more reading about.
Overall rating: “The Colours That Blind” tells an important story through the eyes of a young albino boy and his grandmother. I enjoyed the plot, but for me, the dual timelines and terminology meant that I couldn’t enjoy this as much as I had wanted to. This was a 2 star read for me.
Thank you to Readers First for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.