Every Time A Rainbow Dies; Rita Williams Garcia

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In a love story that glows like the many-colored silk skirt that is its symbolic centerpiece, Rita Williams-Garcia takes her place as a major young-adult novelist. This book, with a strong lyrical voice, fulfills the promise the author showed in her widely acclaimed earlier novel, Like Sisters on the Homefront. With simplicity and a masterful control of pacing, Williams-Garcia builds a story that aches with the longing of two young lovers in a dance of tentative approach and defensive retreat, and eventual trust and healing.

Both Thulani and his girlfriend Ysa have an isolating spiritual wound. Ever since his mother suddenly returned to their Jamaican home to die four years ago, Thulani, 16, has withdrawn from the brother and sister-in-law who have raised him and who want to "man him up." Thulani spends long hours on the roof of their brownstone alone with his beloved doves, and school is to him "simply the sitting place." One day he hears a scream and looks over the parapet to see a young woman being raped in the alley below. He rescues her, covers her nakedness, and takes her home, although she fights him every step of the way. Later, fascinated by her proud rejection and grace, he begins to seek her out and follow her in her colorful clothes. "Every time you step out," he tells her, "a rainbow must die." At first she rejects him angrily because he has seen her shamed, but then she shares her name, Ysa, and her fierce ambition to become a textile designer. Little by little they begin to reach out (and then pull back again), to comfort and strengthen each other.

January 31, 2001


About the Author

"I was born in Queens, N.Y, on April 13, 1957. My mother, Miss Essie, named me 'NoMo' immediately after my birth. Although I was her last child, I took my time making my appearance. I like to believe I was dreaming up a good story and wouldn’t budge until I was finished. Even now, my daughters call me 'Pokey Mom', because I slow poke around when they want to go-go-go.

"I learned to read early, and was aware of events going on as I grew up in the 60s. In the midst of real events, I daydreamed and wrote stories. Writing stories for young people is my passion and my mission. Teens will read. They hunger for stories that engage them and reflect their images and experiences."

Author of four award winning novels, Rita Williams-Garcia continues to break new ground in young people's literature. Known for their realistic portrayal of teens of color, Williams-Garcia's works have been recognized by the Coretta Scott King Award Committee, PEN Norma Klein, American Library Association, and Parents' Choice, among others. She recently served on the National Book Award Committee for Young People's Literature and is on faculty at Vermont College MFA Writing for Children and Young People.


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