Thursday, September 29, 2016

Color Blind by Sheila Sobel

* * 3/4

April is alone in the world. When she was only a baby, her teenage mother took off and now, unbelievably, her dad has died. Nobody's left to take April in except her mom's sister, a free spirit who's a chef in New Orleans--and someone who April's never met. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, April is suddenly supposed to navigate a city that feels just like she feels, fighting back from impossibly bad breaks. But it's Miles, a bayou boy, who really brings April into the heart of the Big Easy. He takes her to the cemetery where nineteenth-century voodoo queen Marie Laveau is buried, and there, April gets a shocking clue about her own past. Once she has a piece of the puzzle, she knows she will never give up. What she doesn't know is that finding out the truth about her past and the key to her future could cost her everything--maybe even her life. 

When April's father passes away, she is left in limbo. Her mother has been out of the picture for years and so now her only family is her estranged aunt, Kate, who lives in New Orleans. This arrangement while necessary is not ideal since April knows nothing about Kate or her mother's side of the family. It's evident how painful this situation is for both of them based on the stilted conversations and awkward silences. April is in a difficult place where she is almost an adult living with her aunt who has never wanted kids but who abruptly has to be responsible for one. There's some hostility between them which is why April seeks solace elsewhere. She meets Miles, a tour guide, when she decides to join his graveyard tour. He sparks in her an interest in New Orleans' voodoo history and gets especially intrigued when she senses a connection that has something to do with her family background. 

There were aspects of the story that appealed to me such as the setting and voodoo since that was a new topic for me. I was so intrigued by it that I was secretly hoping the plot would explore more of that but it didn't. Voodoo being as important as it was at the beginning ... I guess I just felt it petered out by the end and a part of me was disappointed. Instead, the second half of the book zeroes in on family and April learning to get used to her new one. The contentious relationship between April and Kate lost me slightly because I didn't connect with either of them. They never hit it off so that was a pall over most of the book. At the same time, I do think it says something about Sobel's writing that I was affected as I was by their poor rapport. 

This wasn't really my cup of tea but I recognize that's due to my wishful thinking as far as what I wanted the story to explore. A mystery and some highly suspenseful moments are also included in the plot.In the end, Color Blind reminds us that family can some about in unexpected ways.

~ Bel

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