Published by Hodder Children’s Books.
Review by Elizabeth Gibson.
I was new to Carrie Firestone’s books and began The True Colour of Forever with some curiosity. The premise of a girl becoming YouTube-famous is very topical to our generation. However, the blurb on my edition of the novel is misleading – Sadie does not become some big star, she just receives a small amount of fame locally after going to the aid of a distressed baby.
Once I had readjusted my expectations for the story, I did enjoy it on a superficial level. Sadie’s voice is realistic for a seventeen-year-old, the other main characters are fairly engaging and the locations – various parts of the Hamptons in New York – are vividly described. I appreciated the prominence of Sadie’s family in the novel: her father’s bizarre but intriguing backstory, and Sadie’s interactions with her two very different grandmothers. There are some nice little details of daily life that made the novel feel that bit closer to reality.
However, I also had a number of problems with this book. Firstly, the idea of wealth is handled oddly and patchily. Living in the Hamptons – a very wealthy area – most of the characters have comfortable lives. However, Gordie – who is that bit richer than the others – is forever either apologising for or being mocked for his family’s wealth, which isn’t exactly his fault. The author seems to toy with tackling issues of privilege and guilt, but never quite follows through with it.
Secondly, there are some racial and national stereotypes that I found problematic, and Voodoo culture is quite unpleasantly appropriated for the purposes of the plot. Additionally, the characters’ speculation on Gordie’s sexuality – aside from it not really being their business – feels slightly outdated, in that they don’t even seem to consider that he may be bisexual. There is a lack of bisexual representation in YA at the moment and it would have been an interesting aspect to include, or at least mention, in the novel.
The heroin-related aspect of the story is also handled confusingly. Izzy’s struggles with addiction should perhaps have had a whole novel to themselves, as they didn’t really fit in with the fluffy, light-hearted remainder of the book. It is a relief when the other teens realise they need to ask for help from the authorities. However, they take a while to get there and do some dangerous things in the interim, which don’t feel entirely appropriate for a YA audience.
Finally, Gordie’s comments to his love interest towards the end – about how he’s been attracted to them and behaved voyeuristically towards them since they were fourteen – are unsettling. Gordie is supposed to be the gentleman of the gang, and this final revelation undermines that. A couple of subplots also seem to be forgotten about, and I was left feeling frustrated. Overall, this book is interesting and certainly not terrible. It is very different to anything else I’ve read and as mentioned, Sadie’s voice is fresh and authentic. The novel does, however, have some issues, so I would recommend reading with a degree of caution.