Review: The Color of the Sun - David Almond
Genre: YA, Magical Realism, Contemporary
Published: Candlewick Press, September 2019
My Rating: 2/5 stars
The Color of the Sun is the newest YA story by well-known author David Almond, about a boy trying to find his place in the world after the death of his father. We follow him throughout a single day in his life, as he makes his way through his hometown, talks to a variety of people and tries to find back the beauty in everyday life.
If you know me, you know how deeply up my alley this type of book is, and you can imagine my excitement when I got approved for an ARC. For that reason, I genuinely feel bad for saying: this was a miss for me. Let me start off by saying: I can imagine (even remember) the feeling of those first weeks after the death of a parent, and all the ways that colors your view of the world around you. Even in ways you wouldn’t necessarily expect... I believed this book was trying to capture just that, and I was rooting the entire time that it would succeed at that. Unfortunately, I just didn’t feel it…. That distinct headspace and vibe was the only thing this book needed to capture for me to potentially love it, but for me personally, it just missed the mark.
The Color of the Sun is quite the ambitious book, that tries to do a lot of things in very little page time. It covers coming of age, captures a small town vibe, tackles the way grief plays with the mind, and encompasses a variety of very expansive topics such as faith, religion, hatred and the difference between truth and interpretation. Although I can appreciate the authors ideas behind all of this, I don’t feel like the topic got the depth they deserved in this barely over 200 page format. Just as we barely start scratching the surface of something interesting, the novel pulls us away and meanders in a different direction again. And for better or for worse, this book sure does like to meander… It meanders from thought to thought in Davie’s head, from person to person and place to place. In the context of the story, I actually liked that style of writing. It gives a feeling of fleetingness to every contact, which makes a lot of sense to be the experience of a boy who’s recently been confronted with death and mortality. It will also make it hard to relate to, or get to know the characters, which I feel might deter young readers from picking up this book.
With stories like this, I always try to take into consideration the intended audience, as well as my personal opinion. In this case, I don’t think this is a book what’ll have a mass appeal: it’s going to be for a specific kind of reader, looking for a very specific thing. If you’re looking for a slow built, slice of life story, that focusses on life after loss and is more about emotional ambience than actual plot points: this might be for you. That being said, I feel that I, in this case, was the target audience, and still personally didn’t find quite what I was looking for.
In the end, I feel there is a lot of good at the heart of this book, but you might need to dig a little deeper to find it. Grief, and the experience after a loss is a very personal one, and this book feels like it matches that. The fact that I didn’t connect with it personally, should not deter you from picking up this book, especially if it feels like something that you’re looking for. Sometimes the most polarizing books on topics like this are the best ones for you as an individual. The Color of the Sun might just be that kind of book, even though it wasn’t the right fit for me.
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