In a love story that glows like the many-colored silk skirt that is its symbolic centerpiece, Rita Williams-Garcia takes her place as a major young-adult novelist. This book, with a strong lyrical voice, fulfills the promise the author showed in her widely acclaimed earlier novel, Like Sisters on the Homefront. With simplicity and a masterful control of pacing, Williams-Garcia builds a story that aches with the longing of two young lovers in a dance of tentative approach and defensive retreat, and eventual trust and healing.
Both Thulani and his girlfriend Ysa have an isolating spiritual wound. Ever since his mother suddenly returned to their Jamaican home to die four years ago, Thulani, 16, has withdrawn from the brother and sister-in-law who have raised him and who want to "man him up." Thulani spends long hours on the roof of their brownstone alone with his beloved doves, and school is to him "simply the sitting place." One day he hears a scream and looks over the parapet to see a young woman being raped in the alley below. He rescues her, covers her nakedness, and takes her home, although she fights him every step of the way. Later, fascinated by her proud rejection and grace, he begins to seek her out and follow her in her colorful clothes. "Every time you step out," he tells her, "a rainbow must die." At first she rejects him angrily because he has seen her shamed, but then she shares her name, Ysa, and her fierce ambition to become a textile designer. Little by little they begin to reach out (and then pull back again), to comfort and strengthen each other, and, finally, in a bittersweet ending, "to let go when it was time to let go." (Ages 14 and older) --Patty Campbell
Ever since he found her battered and raped in the alley near his home, Thulani hasn't been able to think about anything but Ysa. This is the first time since his mother died that he's given a thought to anything but the rock doves he keeps on the roof of his house in Brooklyn. Now that he has seen Ysa, Thulani finally has a reason to come down from the roof. But it's not so easy for him -- especially when it seems that Ysa doesn't want him in her world at all.
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