Thursday, August 11, 2011

Review: True Colors

True Colors
True Colors by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is an excellent example of why, sometimes, I keep reading when I don't like a book. Granted, I had read this author before, and therefore was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt based on previous enjoyment. But I'm glad I didn't miss out on an enjoyable read.

True Colors is about the Grey sisters, who lose their mother to cancer when the oldest is 15. We skip forward over a decade. Winona, the oldest, is an embittered, fat spinster. The middle child, Aurora, is married with two kids: a twin boy and girl. The youngest, Vivi Ann, is helping to run the family ranch, and she's awesome. (I shy away from describing her as "perfect," but even her supposed flaws are spun as strengths, and descriptions of her made my teeth ache.)

The characterizations start off rather shallow. Winona has been driven her whole life, apparently, by jealous rage over her awesome little sister, and the desire to be loved by their distant and emotionally unavailable father. I lost count of the number of times dear old Dad expressed his feelings by walking out and slamming a door.

It took until the midway point of the book to move beyond the shallow characterizations, and to paint Winona in a more sympathetic light. Initially, she's all wrong, Vivi Ann is all right, and the text is slanted heavily toward the younger sister. That grated. There were a lot of assertions in the text, too, that I didn't agree with from the rest of the story. If the three sisters were so close, there were a lot of questions Vivi Ann should've been asking that she never did. She was supposedly selfless and giving and caring, but she was so wrapped up in her own little world that she never even thought to get to the heart of the rift between her and her sister, and I thought she carried at least half of the blame. No one else in the story seemed to think so, though, not even Winona, or Aurora, the supposedly perceptive sister. The conflict could have been written in a way that made both sisters' perspectives understandable.

The second half of the book, though, almost redeemed the sloppy writing of the first half. The characterization was much fuller, and the overblown description seemed less tacked-on. The sisters' relationships were a lot more nuanced, and, even though there was still conflict, everyone's perspectives were easier to understand.

Still, it didn't erase that the first half of the book had me rolling my eyes and considering moving on to another audio book. It was, in the end, an enjoyable read filled with some heartwarming messages about love and family and what's important, but I really felt like Hannah is capable of better characterization than what was in the first half of this book.

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