Monday, July 12, 2010

True Colors

True Colors by Kristin Hannah

The Grey Sisters. Shattered by their mother’s death when they were still very young, they’ve always banded together against the distant chill of their father.

Winona, the oldest, needs her father’s approval most of all. An overweight bookworm who never felt at home on the sprawling horse ranch that has been in her family for three generations, she knows that she doesn’t have the qualities her father values. But as the best lawyer in town, she’s determined to someday find a way to prove her worth to him.

Aurora, the middle sister, is the family peacemaker. She brokers every dispute and tries to keep them all happy, even as she hides her own secret pain.

Vivi Ann is the undisputed star of the family. A stunningly beautiful dreamer with a heart as big as the ocean in front of her house, she is adored by all who know her. Everything comes easy to Vivi Ann, until a stranger comes to town…

In a matter of moments, their family will be torn apart. The Grey sisters will be pitted against one another in ways that none could have imagined. Loyalties will be tested and secrets revealed, and a terrible, shocking crime will shatter both their family and their beloved town.

With breathtaking pace and penetrating emotional insight, True Colors is an unforgettable novel about sisters, rivalry, forgiveness, redemption—and, ultimately what it means to be a family.
--True Colors by Kristin Hannah, Copyright ©2009 by Kristin Hannah, published by St. Martin’s Griffin

My Review

At almost 500 pages (491 to be exact, not counting the “Reading Group Gold” interview with the author, an essay by the author, and preview of her next book, Winter Garden which came out in February of this year), I had some hesitation in picking up this novel. But the story sounded interesting and seeing as I was born into a group of sisters, I decided to give this story a try.

The book is divided into two parts, appropriately entitled “Part One: Before” and “Part Two: After.” Part One deals with the lives of the three sisters, starting with a scene shortly after their mother dies in 1979. We accelerate to 1992 where Winona, the oldest and most responsible, is tasked by her father to hire a new hand to help out on the family ranch, Water’s Edge. After more than a month of searching, she hires drifter Dallas Raintree. Her prejudicial father has no love for the half-Indian ranch hand, but he’s good with the horses and knows how to fix things. Dallas quickly settles into the routine of Water’s Edge, and into Vivi Ann’s mind.

Vivi Ann can’t shake this sudden obsession she has with Dallas. She’s engaged to another man, a man she doesn’t realize her sister Winona is in love with, but finds herself drawn to Dallas more and more, until she finally succumbs. When their secret affair is revealed, her engagement is broken and she and Dallas disappear, only to reappear days later, married.

The small town scandal is slowly replaced by other small town scandals and is seemingly forgotten by the time Vivi Ann gives birth to their son, Noah. It re-emerges when Dallas is arrested for murder.

Vivi Ann stands fully behind her husband, unlike her sisters and father. She pleads with Winona to represent him, but Winona refuses, saying that as a small-town civil lawyer, she doesn’t have the ability to defend in a major criminal trial. She also believes he’s guilty. Vivi Ann’s faith in Dallas doesn’t waver when he’s found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. She pursues every avenue of appeal until they, and she, are exhausted. Finally, when she receives the divorce papers, she is given no choice but to close the door on her past and move forward with her son.

Part Two opens in 2007. Everyone’s a bit older and a bit wiser, except for budding juvenile delinquent, Noah Raintree. Noah’s been kept in the dark about his father, knowing only that he’s in prison for murder. But Noah can’t help wanting to know more about his father and can’t help hating his mother for not telling him about him. When he comes across an article about advances in DNA testing, he hires his Aunt Winona to see what she can do to help exonerate his father.

I think I’ll stop there. If I go any further, well, you wouldn’t want me to give the ending away, would you?

The story suffers a bit from too-much-itis, a term I think I’ve used before in this blog. Although it enriches the story to see some scenes told from more than one character’s point-of-view, it made the story quite long (hello, almost 500 pages!). That said, I don’t know what could possibly be edited out without ruining the flow of the narrative. The pace is quick, so it’s not a difficult read, it’s just a long read.

If you’re looking for a book to curl up with on a rainy afternoon and hope to finish before nightfall, this isn’t it. But if you’re looking for a wonderful story about sisters, the strength of family ties and the loyalty of love, then invest the time to read this book.

I give this story THREE AND A HALF STARS.

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