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Kaleidoscope Song

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  159 ratings  ·  42 reviews
South Africa is loud. Listen. Do you hear the song and dance of it? The chorus of Khayelitsha life? Every voice is different, its pitch and tone and intonation as distinct as the words we choose and how we wrap our mouths around them. But everybody has a voice, and everybody sings…

Fifteen year old Neo loves music, it punctuates her life and shapes the way she views the wor
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published September 19th 2017 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  159 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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(I rated this book 3.5 stars).

I'm really confused about my feelings for this one. The story itself was beautiful, raw, and emotional, albeit incredibly difficult to read (as a victim of corrective rape myself). But something about it rubbed me the wrong way.

Spoilers below!

Normally I am incredibly outspoken about the constant killing of lesbians in stories. Not as much so here; I understand that this wasn't meant to have a happy ending and the summary makes that very clear. However, I don't know
Nawaal Nackerdien
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ok, first review so don't judge.

I picked up this book because as a queer South African I found it interesting to find a book like this since I literally haven't found a book that's more 'story' with original characters than 'my South African LGBT experience.'

That being said, I was highly surprised that this story was being told by a non-South African and not a lesbian.

Despite this I dived in and I can say I was fairly surprised by the research that done and excuted in the story. There was enou
Diana Sousa
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Everyone has a voice, and everyone sings. Oh, we all do it differently. (…) There are angry songs and sad songs and songs that make you want to dance. But everybody has a song to sing, their own personal story leaked into the world.

Fox Benwell has such a way with words – they don’t just paint you a picture, they play you a symphony. And in a book all about music, and passion, and how everything can be turned into a song, into music if you just listen carefully, these words pick you up and take y
Mimi Thebo
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
We have to write the world we know, not just the world we are. If every author had to stick to their biographical or biological details, literature would be an impoverished place. That said, when you write another culture, you have to do it well and with great sensitivity, and Fox Benwell does do it well and with great sensitivity. This is an extraordinary book.

Benwell takes us on a journey to South Africa and into the experience of Neo, a music-loving teen who discovers she loves another girl.
Oct 03, 2017 rated it liked it
I absolutely loved the first 3/4 of this book, but I’m getting really tired of tragic queer stories. You can read my full review here - https://skysreadingcorner.wordpress.c...
Nov 05, 2017 added it
Have to think about this one... the tone was so gentle and romantic for most of the book that a corrective gang-rape and a murder in the last third really threw me for a loop
Review also posted on my blog, Books and Big Ideas

**Disclaimer: I received an electronic ARC of this via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Kaleidoscope Song is a new release from Fox Benwell centered around the South African music scene and treatment of LGBTQ issues. Now, it appears that the synopsis (above) has changed since I requested the book, potential out of fear of it being a "spoiler," so I really want to mention this as it is a huge trigger warning: one of the issues this book
Jan 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbtq
I wish I could give this book a higher rating, I really do. I adored all the nuances and the feelings that the music made me feel from this book. The details of how the beats of music thrum through everything and all you have to do is listen was great. I adore music, and this book helped me appreciate everything all the more. Neo was so damned passionate and every podcast and ABCs of music she made was like a fantasy, making me feel apart of something so much bigger than myself.

The romance, and
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It starts in a bar. One of ours, in the heart of Khayelitsha. Nothing special on the outside but inside, tonight, two hundred people cram together beneath the corrugated roof and wait, turned out in their Friday Bests, because everyone knows you have to look good for the radio (1).

Thanks to the great curating at my local public library, I stumbled onto this book totally by accident—intrigued by its cover and by the description on the inside flap. I had just seen the somewhat bland movie, Alex St
Diana Laura (The Bookish Sisters)
Full review here:

I want to start off by saying that there’s no way in heck this review will do justice to this amazing, magnificent, beautiful book. So go buy it now. Even before you read this review because that’s how amazing it is. Trust me on this. You need this book in your life.

Neo’s story might be fictional but there is nothing but the truth in Fox Benwell’s words. Even though she is a fictional character, there are actually a lot of Neos out there
Aug 12, 2018 rated it liked it
First up, I love Fox’s writing. It is lyrical, passionate and plays with the rhythm of the music they are describing. The short chapters pulled me in to the story from the start and for the first third I was engrossed in this new noisy, dirty slightly unnerving world and it’s collection of imperfect characters.
But then I began to lose interest - there was too much description of music I knew little about and dreamy romantic yearnings for someone who never became fully fledged for me, mainly def
Nov 04, 2017 rated it liked it
This book wasn't bad by any means, I think it sheds light on a disturbing/somewhat unknown part of some cultures. I guess the part I didn't like was the music, not that it was all bad it just got old after a while. I got the whole picture of "music isn't your future, but the main character does stuff anyway." I got it--teenagers make mistakes. However, I am giving the author props for discussing corrective rape, a term I'd never heard before. I feel bad for not liking this more, and for not bein ...more
Nay Keppler
Dec 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Diane Adams
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
To be fair, I was warned that corrective rape was a theme in this book right on the book jacket. But as horrific as that was, when it came, I was not prepared for a murder. And then, though there was still a good chunk of book left, it felt as though all of the voices had been silenced. Perhaps this was what the author was going for? Hard to say. But the story feels incomplete. I feel a new awareness of lack of tolerance for homosexuals in South Africa, and I feel a lot of anger, but I also feel ...more
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eleora Timberlake
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is hard to read. There are times where it crushed me and all I could do was stare at the wall. But it is important, because it is REAL. This is a story that needs to be told, because it is and has been a reality for so many people. It speaks of love and passion (both for music and for people) in a way that is sure to touch your heart. It calls out for something to be done. For us to all help create a world where these stories are a lot less of a reality. If you are looking for a lighth ...more
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: not-cis
I love Fox Benwell's lush, passionate writing. It was almost overdone here, but it actually matched the main character perfectly. Neo is young and spirited. Her innocence creates an ever-present overlay of discomfort and tension throughout the novel. And holy hell, that harrowing ending was so very difficult to read. I feel gutted.

This book confronts fears, dangers, hope, bravery, trauma, grief - the complexities of being closeted, coming out, and being out, especially in a hostile area.
I don't know where to begin.

This story was so light and yet so heavy, so alive and yet dying inside.

Here is the thing: Neo loves music. She lives and breathes music. She can tell you more about artists and songs and albums than you ever knew was there to know. But she doesn't stop here. She hears the music in everyday life, the joy and sorrow, the light and dark, the laughter and the tears, in the haggling at the market and the talking on the streets.

So in a way, this book appreciates music, but
Alexa (the Commander)
The whole first half of this was kind of slow and then it swooped in out of nowhere and broke my heart, made me furious, completely sickened me, and gave me so much hope that I was a complete mess. Also, 10/10 for all the references to musicians—I used to listen to Mzwahke Mbuli, Miriam Makeba, and Vusi Mahlasela CONSTANTLY when I was taking South African history in college. (I'm so used to thinking of my interest in it as weird and out there—I almost cried when they mentioned "Shosholoza" and t ...more
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I didn't get to finish this one - Though I like music just fine I'm not a fan of YA books that are seeped in the subject; hence the 4 stars.

However, Fox Benwell has beautiful writing. Like the book's subject, their words flow like lyrics and the love story like a poem. It's worth reading for the writing and alone.

The setting was also enticing - the South African radio scene and the descriptions of the way the music makes the city and its youth come alive. Very enchanting.
Dill Werner
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fox has such a way with words. He took me on an adventure of the heart and left me feeling fulfilled. I am a huge music lover and was drawn in by the cover alone. But Kaleidoscope song is such an original idea that thinks outside of contemporary fiction, which I don't normally like. But I'll be reading more from him, guaranteed.

My beloved Fox, you deserve all the starred reviews for this book and more!
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I didn’t fall in love like I was hoping but it was still a really good book! I loved the way the protagonist described music, from a listener’s point of view. I love that it was a South African story. I love that it was a lesbian story. What sucked was how I couldn’t figure out what else there was to Tale. Sure, the first encounter was perfect, but after initial lust, there was no reason given to falling in love with her...
May 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
I liked this book, until the use of the (view spoiler) trope. It didn't need to be what it ended up being, and all in all has probably wrecked my mental health for a year. Here is your warning, this book is not the cute and quirky thing that it seems to be. If you want to read positive queer stories find something else.
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
The first two thirds were so beautiful and evocative, and then the [major plot event] and reality hit like a tonnnnnnnnnn of bricks.
The ending felt a little quick, but I appreciated the closure and hope there rather than just ending with [major plot event].
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was given this book for free.

It was an interesting read although quite dark and violent at times. I did like the prose and felt there was a very poetic feel to the writing.

It would have been nice to have more of a resolution. I felt like the ending was a bit abrupt.
May 22, 2018 rated it liked it
I think the plot was wonderful, and the book takes you on a journey. However, this book was not that exciting to me. Maybe it's just my opinion, and I am willing to try Fox Benwell's other books in the future.
I’ve always found that writing reviews for books that you passionately love is harder. How many different ways can you say excellent, amazing, breath-taking, shattering (in the best possible way), phenomenal, incredible and unbelievably wonderful?

Fox Benwell has a magic way with words. Nearly every sentence feels like it could stand as a beautiful quote on its own. (I tried to note the quotes and before I reached the halfway mark the book was just overflowing with sticky-notes.) As they add up t
Nov 10, 2018 rated it liked it
SAD. Read at your own risk. I’m joking but also I’m not.
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Fox Benwell (formerly known as Sarah Benwell) is a perpetual student of the world, a writer, adventurer and wannabe-knight, who holds degrees in international education and writing for young people, and believes in the power of both to change the world.
“Rainbow on the inside!” He giggles.
“Can you imagine if we all took them for Pride? Dozens of us. Hundreds. Thousands? All of us marching, rainbow to the core?”
“But everyone has a voice, and everyone sings. Oh, we all do it differently. Some of us sing quietly, alone, only in the dead of night or in the shower. Some of us sing a cappella, and some stand on a stage beside a band and let the whole world share their song. Some of us, some of us don’t sing at all, like that. We sing with other instruments: There’s song in stores, and in art, and in getting up before the dawn and putting food onto the table. There are angry songs and sad songs and songs that make you want to dance. But everybody has a song to sing, their own personal story leaked into the world. And mine is one of love.” 0 likes
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