The Color of the Sun

Candlewick. Sept. 2019. 224p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781536207859.
Gr 9 Up–In spite of, or perhaps because of, his father’s death just three weeks prior, Davie’s mother sends him out of the house on an “ordinary” summer day. She’s baked some “bara brith”—bread sweetened with dried fruit—to take along; she’s firm but kind. Award-winning English novelist Almond directs his protagonist with a similar sureness: the plot, a road trip of sorts, allows other characters Davie meets along the way to supply the drama as he sets off on foot for a sunny hill outside of town. First Davie’s mate Gosh Todd shows him the body of a kid their age he claims has been murdered, casting a long shadow on Davie’s outing. Then he meets two women he’s known all his life who speak to the “vulnerability of all babes” as they retell the folktale of a child stolen out of its pram by a buzzard, perhaps never to return. This only makes Davie curious about what “the warm breeze at his back” would feel like were he to be abducted, because maybe he would like to be lost, too. As Davie’s many surprising encounters—a local priest who reveals he’s in love, a “bonny” lass crushing on shy Davie, an ugly stray dog who keeps him on track—start to dislodge Davie’s isolation, readers too are touched by this small-town, gossipy community who nonetheless care about an adolescent boy coming to terms with grief.
VERDICT In this piece of masterful storytelling, a small town offers its own brand of solace to a young teen struggling with loss. Recommended.

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