(Author: Amita Trasi) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)
*** Actual rating: 3.5 ***
This is one of those books which leave me with very mixed feelings. To be honest, I considered giving it 3 stars instead of 4, but I’m feeling generous today.
The good sides:
1. It’s touching and sad. I’m not saying that a sad book or a character’s sad story is a good thing, but if a book is able to influence you in any way, it’s a good thing. I know, because I’ve had my fair share of books for which I really didn’t give a damn.
2. The character of Mukta is quite beautiful. I really enjoyed reading every single line written from her perspective. She is extremely humble and kind, loyal and generous – in her case, as she has nothing else, what she shares with everyone is her big heart, even though it gets bruised by many. I was able to really feel her emotions and her pain and I spent the majority of the book rooting for her.
3. The writing is lovely. Trasi just has a way with words, especially when Mukta is the narrator. There is great beauty in her descriptions. Despite the many things I didn’t approve of in this book, I’m in no way able to say that Amita Trasi is not a good writer. What she lacks in creativity as far as the plot goes, she makes up in the way she builds the philosophy of the book and the world in it.
The bad sides:
1. It’s sort of like season 2 of The Kite Runner: India. Nearly every character in The Color of Our Sky has an exact counterpart in The Kite Runner. The idea of this book is so similar, in fact, that even many of the quotes are the same. As a summary: there are two kids, one comes from a good family, the other one is a servant of sorts, they are friends, but the richer child treats the other one like the servant that it is and doesn’t really think that they are friends; something happens to one of the children, the other one says nothing, not long after it goes to America with its father, the other one stays in the home country; years later the one that left returns to right its wrongs. I could put some spoilers here which would set in stone my claim that the books have virtually the same storyline, but if you are interested, you can read it for yourselves.
2. Mukta’s storyline, as much as I liked it, lacks depth. It’s sort of like the Memoirs of a Geisha, minus 300 pages. Too many years are skipped, too many events. We don’t really follow the development/change of the character – the reason for that is that we simply don’t have the time, the book ends too fast. I was interested in what happened with Arun Sahib, but that story was neither fully developed, nor even properly ended.
3. I don’t have a tolerance for the “Tara” type of character. She is the exact replica of The Kite Runner’s Amir. Acts like an ass when she is a child, then later just comes out of nowhere to make herself feel better and everyone thinks she’s a hero. I was extremely frustrated by the trust Mukta had in Tara and the way she always hoped and believed that Tara truly loved her and had her back. No matter what happened in the book, I’m not sure that is so. Whatever Tara might have done, it would have all been too late in my opinion.
Also, I can’t not find the way Tara had an endless supply of money very implausible. She spent 5 whole years in India without working a single day and yet she had enough money to do whatever she wanted, bribe people, buy plane tickets and more. Even though we are told that her father comes from a rich family, how rich can a village aristocrat be? And we are not given reason to believe that she received vast sums of her father’s family inheritance anyway.
4. What happened with the secondary characters? As soon as they served their purpose, they simply disappeared. What happened with Tara’s grandmother, with Madam, with Arun Sahib, with Tara’s friend from America, with a dozen more secondary characters…? Are we to assume that this time Madam decided to just drop it? Her description makes that highly unbelievable.
5. Why do all books at least partially set in India that I’ve read always end up with someone’s ashes being thrown in the river? I realize it’s a tradition, but when every author starts using it, it becomes a stereotype. Stereotypes lead to people being offended and from this book as well as others, it’s obvious that the stereotype is self-created.
Would I recommend this book?
a) Yes, if you are avid readers. It’s moving and has a nice enough plot.
b) No, if you don’t read so often. There are books similar to this one and yet better so if you are only going to choose one, pick The Kite Runner or A Thousand Splendid Suns.