The Color of My Words

Author: Lynn Joseph

Ana Rosa has spent the entire twelve years of her life in her small village in the Dominican Republic. She loves her Mami who cares for her and knows secrets about her that no one else does. She loves her Papi, even though he confuses and sometimes frightens her with his drinking and dreaming. And she loves her siblings, especially her big brother Guario who works hard for the family but who also guards secret dreams. What most people don’t know is that Ana Rosa also loves words. Every day she climbs up into her favorite gri gri tree and looks out on the world around her–her family, neighbors, her beautiful island, and the sea which speaks peace to her–and as she looks, she is flooded with the poetry of it all, with words longing to escape onto a page. Only, putting words on paper is dangerous in her country, and so she keeps her passion for words a secret as long as she can.

When I picked up The Color of My Words, I really didn’t know what to expect. What drew me initially was the lush colors on the cover; what kept me reading was the equally lush content. The setting is richly described both through the prose and through Ana Rosa’s poems which are scattered between chapters. And the political and cultural flavor of the place pervades the story, but is skillfully expressed so that what is shown is what a twelve-year-old would typically perceive. The character of Ana Rosa is interesting, as are the people around her. Also, the story hits a pivotal point in her life, such that the plot deals with a number of truly significant and universal issues in a way that is touching and insightful. Truly, I think The Color of My Words deserves a great deal more attention than it has received–you should check it out.

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