*My digital copy was given by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary from Goodreads:
A sweeping, emotional journey of two childhood friends—one struggling to survive the human slave trade and the other on a mission to save her—two girls whose lives converge only to change one fateful night in 1993.
India, 1986: Mukta, a ten-year-old girl from the lower caste Yellamma cult of temple prostitutes has come of age to fulfill her destiny of becoming a temple prostitute. In an attempt to escape this legacy that binds her, Mukta is transported to a foster family in Bombay. There she discovers a friend in the high spirited eight-year-old Tara, the tomboyish daughter of the family, who helps her recover from the wounds of her past. Tara introduces Mukta to a different world—ice cream and sweets, poems and stories, and a friendship the likes of which she has never experienced before.As time goes by, their bond grows to be as strong as that between sisters. In 1993, Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s room.
Eleven years later, Tara who blames herself for what happened, embarks on an emotional journey to search for the kidnapped Mukta only to uncover long buried secrets in her own family. Moving from a remote village in India to the bustling metropolis of Bombay, to Los Angeles and back again, amidst the brutal world of human trafficking, this is a heartbreaking and beautiful portrait of an unlikely friendship—a story of love, betrayal, and redemption—which ultimately withstands the true test of time.
There are stories that entertain and there are stories that challenge the reader and spur him into action. The Color of our Sky, for me, falls into the latter category.
Aside from being a deeply emotional story about friendship and family, The Color of our Sky is a poignant portrayal of the Indian caste system and a disturbing revelation on prostitution and human trafficking. I don’t know how true some of the scenes are in the book, especially the ones on prostitution and brothels, but I am inclined to believe in their possibility and reality. And this is where I feel most moved and challenged. If what happened to Mukta happens in real life, what can I do to help? My heart breaks for the little girls and women who are imprisoned by their tradition and culture.
Reading the book was not a struggle because the prose is very simple. I had a slow start, however, because I felt that the narrative was a bit forced and it seems that I am reading a story from my grade school text book in Reading. The scenes played out from past to present and vice versa which initially confused me, but it was the mystery of the lost child (Mukta) that kept me going. The prose isn’t very extraordinary but I liked how the character of Mukta was fleshed out. I loved her resilience and courage and her firm belief in the goodness of every person. When she tells her story, my heart slowly breaks into pieces, and my tears eventually fell when Mukta gave birth. Those parts in the book were really very painful to read.
I haven’t read too many books by Indian authors but the ones I’ve read such as the stories of Jhumpa Lahiri, are about Indian immigrants in America. The Color of our Sky is the first book I read that is entirely set in India. I loved reading about India in this book — the setting and culture. It was an enriching reading experience.
When I read the blurb of this book on Netgalley, I had second thoughts of requesting a copy. But I guess I was won over by the desire to read something diverse (i.e. Indian culture) and of course, that beautiful cover. I can nitpick on some of the things that happened in the story such as the time frame and I can complain about my dislike for Tara, but all in all, I loved the book. The Color of our Sky is a very touching read and I didn’t regret reading it. It was one of those books that surprised me — in a good way. I became more aware of the harsh realities of prostitution which is one of the oldest practices in civilization. It affirmed my conviction to do something and to contribute, no matter how small, to the empowerment and education of women and their significant roles in society.
“Sometimes one act of bravery is better than a life lived as a coward.“Sometimes one act of bravery is better than a life lived as a coward.” – Mukta
My copy: ebook from NetGalley.