I received The Color Of Sky in exchange for an honest review.
I acquired a review copy of The Color Of Sky last year, but shamefully only recently got around to reading it. This debut was promoted heavily on Goodreads and Netgalley at the time of its release but since then it seems to have dropped off the radar somewhat which is perhaps why I’d put off reading it. I don’t know why it’s received so little hype because for me it was a strong debut; haunting, evocative and beautifully written.
The Color Of Our Sky tells the stories of Mukta and Tara, two Indian girls born into very different circumstances. In a style reminiscent of Khaled Hosseini, the author reveals their fates through a dual narrative and timeframe, beginning in1986 with Mukta and jumping between Mukta’s childhood and Tara’s narrative years later in 2004, as she looks back on their shared formative years after travelling back to India from her new home in Los Angeles.
Mukta is born into a cult of prostitutes; children who forced to sacrifice their bodies for the ‘Goddess’. Her mother longs for a better life for her daughter but, with no father on the scene, it seems there is no way out. Until Mukta is rescued and taken to live with a family in a higher class in Mumbai where she meets Tara.
Over fifteen years later, Tara has returned to India to look for Mukta, who lived with her and her family for five years before being kidnapped. As the two reflect on their lives together and apart, secrets are revealed and threads are unravelled until the dual stories beautifully come together.
There’s a lot to love about this book. The writer herself comes from India and now lives in America, so to some extent the portrayal of the culture has been experienced first-hand and it shows. She brings to life the country from the bustling, chaotic city streets of Bombay, to the quiet suppression of the more isolated villages where prostitution is still considered the norm.
There’s some tough topics tackled, and I was shocked to discover that societies still operated in the manner of Mukta’s hometown in the 1990s, where these woman are told on initiation: “You cannot marry any man. You are married to the deity and only after worshipping her will you be able to have a meal. You have to fast two days a week and oblige any man who comes to you. If he beats you, you must not retaliate.”
It really was revelatory, and the book serves to illustrate the vast cultural divides. Mukta’s story was a tragic one, and she is a character you cannot help but feel for. Subjects such as caste, prostitution and HIV are all tackled in a frank manner but if I had one criticism it would be that perhaps there was a little too much packed into the book. Spanning some hard-hitting subjects over 15 years is no easy feat, and there were certain scenarios and characters which I would have loved to have been developed further.
The writer uses beautiful prose to not only capture the atmosphere of the place but the intensity of the emotions. I’m afraid for me it almost felt a little overly flowery and poetic at times, but this is just personal taste and it really can’t be faulted on language for a debut.
All in all, this is a strong debut which deserves to be talked about a little more. It gives an insight into a culture which many may know little about, and at its heart it’s a touching story about the power of friendship.