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The Barnes Noble ReviewIn a beautifully written but hard hitting tale about the harsh realities of life African American author Rita Williams Garcia offers the elegantly poignant young adult novel Every Time a Rainbow Dies Sixteen year old Thulani has been adrift in his life ever since the death of his mother But the healing power of love along with a tragic event and the vagaries of fate eventually give Thulani's life new meaning and direction Living in the Brooklyn brownstone he and his older brother inherited upon their mother's death Thulani's only interest in life is the pigeons he keeps in a dovecote up on the roof As much as possible he ignores his brother's attempts to man him up and his pregnant sister in law's incessant nagging He has no direction no goals no purpose But that all changes when he witnesses a vicious rape in the alley below his rooftop By the time Thulani reaches the girl her attackers have fled But instead of the gratitude and relief he expects from her Thulani is cursed shunned and even slapped by the battered girl In the weeks that follow Thulani finds himself obsessing over the girl whose name he learns is Ysa He follows her during the day to see where she goes and dreams about her at night It takes weeks before he has the courage to approach her and his reception is not a warm one But Thulani is determined and persistent a trait that eventually wears down Ysa's defenses Now for the first time since his mother's death Thulani has something other than his birds that he cares about but each time happiness seems within his grasp something happens to take it away from him Then Thulani's brother makes some decisions that will force Thulani to redirect his entire life This crisis combined with his brother's well meaning but heartbreaking betrayals and the tenuous nature of his relationship with Ysa teach Thulani how to love forgive and stand up for what he believes in Every Time a Rainbow Dies isn't always an easy read A violent rape scene which is depicted in vivid detail and some sexual imagery that can at times be a bit coarse dictate caution when considering the book's appropriateness for some YA readers But although Williams Garcia offers no illusions about the harsh realities of life she also does an amazing job of proffering hope where there seemingly is none For those who don't need their tales sugarcoated this is a painful but rewarding read Beth Amos


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    Em's Review For the past four years since his mother returned home to Jamaica to die 16 year old Thulani has lived a very isolated life He shares a Brooklyn apartment with his older brother and pregnant sister in law and cares for lives for his pigeon companions who live in a dovecote on the roof of their building One day from his rooftop refuge he witnesses a woman being brutally raped and scares off her assailants After helping her home he can’t stop thinking about her – the one who drew him out of his isolation He pursues her and in the process he rejoins the worldOne complex aspect of this story is Thulani’s pursuit of Ysa Thulani is a super sweet young man who I can’t imagine hurting a fly Yet as he initially begins to pursue Ysa he follows her on the street and he watches her from a “safe” distance His actions made me nervous not because I actually felt he posed any physical threat to Ysa but because I worried for her emotional safety Would she notice his stalking? Would she feel frightened? Stalking a recent victim of sexual abuse let alone anyone isn’t the most respectful way to try to get to know someone But I’m glad that Williams Garcia has Thulani make this error in judgment because it gives Ysa the opportunity to put him in his place allowing the author to send a message to young readers about power and consent After this encounter Thulani is able to win Ysa’s trust and friendship through his persistence and his willingness to let her take control and call the shots Thulani and Ysa form an unusual bond as two individuals who have to learn to let down the protective barriers over their hearts in order to truly share themselves with one anotherWhile Everytime a Rainbow Dies is a love story it is also about connection community responsibility and growing up Williams Garcia creates a convincing sense of place an engaging cast of supporting characters and meaningful believable dialogue While not entirely uneventful the plot feels very “every day” so if you’re looking for intense plot arcs you may want to look elsewhere