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The Colours That Blind

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Thirteen-year-old Tumirai lives with his protective big brother, Mkoma in Harare, Zimbabwe. He's the first albino kid ever to have attended his school and constantly feels like an outsider.

When his brother is invited to go travelling for work, Tumirai goes to stay with their grandmother, Ambuya Thandie. She is scarred, in more ways than one, but her memory is a treasure trove - and her stories of Zimbabwe's war for independence are a long, long way from the history Tumirai has heard before.

359 pages, Paperback

Published June 27, 2019

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About the author

Rutendo Tavengerwei

2 books38 followers
Rutendo Nomsa Tavengerwei grew up in Zimbabwe before moving to South Africa to study Law. One of her greatest influences in writing remains her father, who tutored Rutendo from the age of nine, teaching her how to write and how to play around with language when telling a story. According to Rutendo "writing is more than just story-telling for me. It's a way to protest against injustices, a way to encourage and a way to provoke thought and inspire."

Rutendo currently works and lives in Geneva, Switzerland. Hope Is Our Only Wing is her debut novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 53 reviews
Profile Image for Fadwa (Word Wonders).
547 reviews3,524 followers
November 7, 2020
Content warnings ~

This book was such a beautiful surprise. I picked it up not knowing what to expect from it as this was the first time I read from this author and I hadn't even heard of this book before reading it and yet now, it's one that I find myself thinking about frequently since I finished it. The Colours that Blind is a beautifully written, yet heartbreaking and sometimes hard story, story set in two timelines:

- The first timeline follows Tumi, a teenage boy with Albinism, who struggles with PTSD after something extremely traumatic happened to him at the hand of a family member. Through his story, the author brings awareness to the very real dangers Albino folks face in the southern parts of Africa til this day because of the ignorance and the myths associated with their condition. We follow him as he learns to trust again, cope with his trauma, and move on for his own sake. All of this as he grows closer to his grandma whom he used to distrust and be extremely wary of. The only minor thing I want to bring attention to is that although Tumi has Albinism, the book never talks about the health consequences of it, and only sheds light on the social consequences, so this is something to keep in mind when going into the book.

- The second timeline follows Tumi's grandma, Thandie, as she lives in a through a war-torn Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and we get to witness the harrowing and horrifying things that happened in the 70s/80s there as white people went under the pretense of "saving the blacks", killed people, stole land and settled just to practically enslave Africans, steal from them, murder them and set up segregation laws. This is a criticism on mission and missionaries as well as the extent people are willing to go to "for the right cause" and how far is too far. Thandie also struggle with PTSD because of all the awful things she went through and witnesses in that time and uses her story to grow close to her grandson and comfort him in his own trauma.

I loved the parallels drawn between them two even with the vastly different circumstances.
Profile Image for Zaneb.
118 reviews2 followers
January 9, 2023
“Ash is the only thing that survives the burn of the heat. It's the only thing that lasts
when everything else dies down. It withstands everything.”

A moving and powerful story. I wish I could convey how I feel after reading this but the words escape me. It's a really good book. Read it.
May 10, 2020
A powerful YA story, one I’m very glad I read. It’s emotional but also uplifting. The characters are so well written and developed, it is beautifully written and you feel everything as you go on Tumi’s journey. A highly recommended read, another book I feel that should be in schools and libraries as very influential, informative and the type of book that needs to be read for change. This book hopefully will be up for some good read awards as it deserves it. Truly powerful and inspirational read.

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
Profile Image for Linda Hepworth.
891 reviews4 followers
July 8, 2020
This story is told through the alternating voices of Tumi and Thandiwe and I found the way in which the author wove together the two storylines and the two timelines to be very effective. Each of the switches – between the two voices and between modern day Zimbabwe and 1970s Rhodesia – always felt smooth and timely, enhancing the storytelling rather than distracting from it.
I don’t want to go into any details about what Thandiwe’s diary reveals about the brutal and heart-breaking experiences she faced as a young girl because the gradual revelations are central to contributing to making this such a powerful, disturbing, moving, and yet ultimately compassionate, story. However, his grandmother’s revelations enable Tumi to not only gain insight into these experiences and the ways in which she has managed to come to terms with her past, but also to understand more about his family’s history and his cultural inheritance and demonstrate that confronting what we fear helps us to reduce the power of our nightmares. Both characters carry emotional and physical scars from their experiences but the time they spend together not only helps them to bond, but also enables Tumi to learn some important life lessons as he discovers how his ambuya managed to find room in her heart for forgiveness.
Although this is, at times, a deeply disturbing and upsetting story it is not devoid of humour, much of which is provided by Tumi’s delightful young niece, Noku. There were so many moments when, with her droll observations, she amused not only her family but made me chuckle too! One of the strengths of the author’s writing is her ability to draw characters who seem to leap off the page and, for this reason, I know that not only will her story remain with me for a long time to come, but so too will her characters, each of whom was impressively nuanced.
Rutendo Tavengerwei lived in Zimbabwe until she was 18 and, as her family had been deeply affected by the war, she had grown up knowing about how they had been mistreated and discriminated against, about the atrocities they’d witnessed and for some years had wanted to write a story based on this awareness. Although I’m familiar with the history of colonial rule in the country and the hard-fought fight for independence, seeing this through the eyes of Thandiwe and being reminded of the endemic discrimination and brutal ill-treatment which was meted out to the native population, purely because of the colour of their skin, felt truly shocking and upsetting. A sign above the door of a restaurant read “EUROPEANS ONLY, DOGS AND AFRICANS NOT ALLOWED” – the order of the exclusions making the discriminatory message even more shocking.
However, I appreciated the fact that, in an admirably even-handed way, the author included illustrations of the fact that atrocities were committed on both sides. One way in which she did this was by making a group of white missionaries central to the 1970s story. These characters were based on the Elim missionaries of Vumba, people who had lived as part of the black community, providing schooling and medical services rather than seeing their role as “saviours” of the indigenous population. She’d grown up feeling inspired by the fact that they had lived their lives with love, not hatred, in their hearts and, in part, she dedicated this story to their memory.
There was another story she had been burning to tell and that was of the way in which albinos were, and still are, treated in certain sub-Saharan African countries. The superstitions which surround the condition can lead to people with albinism being kidnapped, sold across borders, having limbs chopped off or even being killed, all because of a belief that their bodies have supernatural powers. In the end she decided to combine both stories because both are about ignorance, hatred, prejudice and being discriminated against purely on the grounds of skin-colour.
She poses the question “will we let our misconceptions about each other, especially where colour is concerned, allow us to perpetuate hate? And if we do, when and where will it end?” However, she also points out that these are issues which also face anyone who, for whatever reason, is perceived as being “different” and challenges her readers to “ultimately refuse to tolerate injustice in any form”. A challenge which is pertinent at any time but perhaps particularly so in view of recent events and the consequential mass-protests now taking place across the world.
Although this novel is being marketed as a YA story and is written in a rather simple style, the range of important, thought-provoking themes it contains challenges such a narrow targeting. I’m sure it will appeal to anyone who has an interest in exploring their own assumptions and prejudices, whatever their age. It would also be an excellent choice for book groups.
With my thanks to Readers First and Hot Key Books for a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jacqueline Allan.
519 reviews4 followers
April 16, 2020
A sincere thank you to the publisher, author and Netgalley for providing me an ebook copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

This is not my usual genre, I’m more of a crime/thriller reader however this story intrigued me. I absolutely loved it, truly one of the best books I have read. I am extremely pleased and grateful to both for opening up my mind to something totally different.
12 reviews
June 23, 2022
A powerful YA story about accepting others and ourselves

Thanks to Readers First for supplying me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

We are introduced to 14 year old Tumi, who is struggling with his identity and the aftermath of a, as yet unknown, traumatic event. Tumi, nicknamed 'Mrunga' by his swim team mates due to his albinism, is desperate to gain a place on the national swim team in the hope that others will see there is more to him than just his skin colour.

Tumi lives with his protective big brother, Mkoma in Harare, Zimbabwe and is sometimes cared for by Saru, who has a toddler, Noku with Mkoma.

The story builds slowly, focusing on Tumi with his usual 14 year old concerns and interests, with just hints of the event in his past that has clearly impacted both him and Mkoma. Then there is an emergency, both adults need to be away from home, so it decided the children will both go to stay with Tumi's Ambuya.

Tumi is extremely upset by this, Ambuya has scars and a half overheard conversation between Mkoma and Saru told Tumi some scary half-facts about his Ambuya, this has become entangled in Tumi mind with his own trauma – because it is true? or in that way things can, for children, when all they know are half truths and are scared?

Despite his best efforts to evade going to Ambuya's 1) Because he is terrified of Ambuya and 2) He will miss swim practices. Tumi has to go. Whilst packing he discovers a series of numbered letters in one of his brothers bags and secretes them into his own bag to read.

These letters were sent from Ambuya to Mkoma and include extracts of her diary from March 1975 – Feb 1977, during the end stage of the Rhodesian Bush War.

At this point the story then switches between Tumi in the present day and his Ambuya, Thandie, living in pre-independent Zimbabwe working for a white family but also supporting the guerrillas 'comrades' with the war effort. Both of their pasts unfold and the story moves at a good pace. Thandie's diary documents the blatant racism of the times, how her life was in danger purely because of her skin colour. This contrasts with Tumis' own experiences of people responding to his skin colour which ranges from ignorance and lack of awareness through to the horrific consequences of cultural misconceptions and superstitions around albinism. One particular line is truly heart breaking, after meeting another person who has albinism too, Tumi thinks; 'There's something about (removed) I don't like... There's something about him that makes me hate him a little. Its the way he reminds me of myself. Its the way his pale skin looks exactly like mine.' Demonstrating how cultural bias are internalised and are so unnecessarily damaging to anyone who doesn't conform, often naturally, to societal expectation and norms, whoever they are and wherever they grow up.

Thandies' experiences with her family, neighbours and comrades and the whites as a young black 'employee' (I use quotations as she is treated horrifically, has no rights at all and her 'employer' refuses to even use her given name) and the white missionaries are differing and complex.

As Tumi begins to understand more about his Ambuya, his fear towards her lessens, however it truly is a difficult truth to hear, which gives credence to the quote;
“The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.” ― David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
Tumi meanwhile is dealing with more immediate difficulties which cause him to evaluate how he views himself as a person and decide how he will act and continue to respond in the face of discrimination to himself and others like him.

Overall this book grapples with the struggle to be true to your own values and love yourself when you are surrounded by other strong pressures and influences. It is an excellent book for young people and I wish there had been more like this around when I was younger, for me to have broadened my world-view and for others, coming from the same background as the author to see themselves in literature.
Profile Image for Selina.
22 reviews
June 30, 2020
The Colours That Blind tells the story of Tumirai, a 14 year old boy living in Zimbabwe with albinism who is desperate to join the national swim team. However, disaster strikes when Tumi must go to stay with his ambuya (grandmother) in a rural village, stopping him from going to his daily swim practices. If that wasn’t bad enough, Tumi is convinced that something isn’t quite right with his grandmother, who has stayed in contact with her son, who is in prison for trying to kidnap Tumi. But when Tumi discovers a letter containing part of her diary, it seems there is more to her than meets the eye. Ambuya has a story to tell Tumi; is it time for him to overcome his fear of her and listen?

At first, I couldn’t really get into the story. I found that the beginning didn’t interest me or capture my imagination in any way, partly because I don’t have much of an interest in sports-based books. Yet once I’d reached roughly the second part, something captivated me. There were suddenly a lot more questions that I wanted answers to, which made it hard to put the book down! I loved the switches between Tumi in the present day and Ambuya’s diary, and later her telling the story to Tumi, set in the past. Her story was thrilling from beginning to end, and I was quickly drawn in to it.

The language used in the book was almost poetic at times, there were some beautiful pieces, but at the same time it wasn’t too overwhelming with metaphors, similes, etc. When reading from Tumi’s point of view, the language had bits of slang thrown in as well, which helped to lighten it up a bit and kept it realistic.

Overall, by the end of The Colours That Blind, I’d been pleasantly surprised. The story had got much better than I expected it would, and I’m glad that I did carry on. The book is especially relevant during this time, when I think that we should be making as big of an effort as possible to educate ourselves on matters like the racism that is dealt with in it. I never knew anything about the history of Zimbabwe, and now I’ve definitely learnt and understand a lot more.
Profile Image for Romina.
40 reviews1 follower
June 25, 2020
He watched too, then cleared his throat. ‘Well, I’d like to say that this hair was a true thing of beauty.’ My eyes welled up as his turned and stayed on me. ‘But you, even without it, are still a work of art. The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.’

I received this book yesterday and I am already done with it. It took me less than a day to finish it. Let me warn you, once you start reading, you will not be able to put it down.

The story follows the life of a young boy, Tumirai, who has experienced a lot of trauma in his early life in the hands of his Bamkuru, because of his albinism. In addition to that, Tumi experiences discrimination at school every day because of his condition. When Tumi’s brother has to leave for a week, he goes to stay in his grandmother’s house. His Ambuya’s story is so heart-breaking, it made me so sad. Her relationship with Matthew was so pure. I hated the ending of their relationship, it made me cry. But I loved how her story ended, how she promised herself that she would move on, one day at a time. She is such an amazing and strong woman.

I love how the story is told from their own perspectives. I loved the book, it was so fast paced and you are always left wanting more and more. It makes me so angry and sad that people have to go through this every day, even 50 years later. It is time for change, people need to understand that racism has to stop. We are all human and we all deserve the same happiness, regardless of race, religion, beliefs, gender, etc. Love reading people’s experiences through books, even though it is hard, it can help us understand how people feel, what we’re doing wrong and how we can do and be better. Amazing job, well done Rutendo!

Profile Image for Louise Pharo.
51 reviews3 followers
July 8, 2020
This story is set in Zimbabwe and we follow the life of Tumi who desperately wants to make the Zimbabwean national swimming team because for him swimming is a way that he escapes the hatred and exclusion his albinism brings him. He then goes to stay with his grandmother (His Ambuya) and the trauma from the terrible thing that happened to him all comes flooding back. Ambuya then tries to console him by revealing her own past, a story of living in war torn Rhodesia.

This book is a powerful, moving and heartbreaking tale that I'd reccomend to everyone. Hearing both Tumi and Ambuya's stories broke my heart and listening to how they remained strong and overcome all of the hatred they'd experiences was inspiring. Learning about the awful atrocities that are committed against people with Albinism in parts of Africa and things that still happened to this day really shocked me because it was something I had no idea was even happening. And then the book switching to Ambuya's past and her life living in Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe) in the 1970s which was a place riddled with war and racial hatred where the native Zimbabweans fought for their independence over White British colonial rule, which was something they didn't gain until 1980. Ambuya's story was filled with murder, war and an illegal love and then we go back to Tumi in the 21st century who is still facing hatred, discrimination and physical abuse and kidnapping due to his albinism. It is a truly harrowing read but one that is powerful, educating and will hopefully start some important conversations and as Tavengerwei rightly said in her authors note "I hope this book challenges you to refuse to let skin colour blind you - and that you ultimately refuse to tolerate injustice in any form"
Profile Image for Ursula.
342 reviews6 followers
July 30, 2020
I like novels which take me to a whole new world. Usually these are historical or science fiction and often involve a main character who doesn't really fit in as this provides a window on the situation for the reader.

This novel is of rather recent history as it is set in modern Zimbabwe with an urban albino schoolboy visiting relatives in a rural area. But there is another story of his grandmother when she was a young woman in the time of apartheid, terror and turmoil shortly before Rhodesia gained independence. The two stories are successfully linked and interwoven so the reader is soon hooked and is determined to reach the outcome.

I have previously read another powerful story about the difficult life of an albino in Zimbabwe (The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah) so I already had some understanding of the prejudice and unease at the possible danger. Combining the themes of albinism and apartheid gives some very literal and unavoidable experiences of hatred and cruelty sprouting from skin colour.

Rutendo Tavengerwei writes well and movingly. She brings the settings to life and describes those details of how her characters act which really make them familiar to the reader. The teenage boy, Tumi, grows markedly in maturity and understanding as his relationship with his grandmother develops and events in his own life spiral into unwanted drama. This is an author I will want to encounter again.
Profile Image for Runa Begum.
79 reviews2 followers
May 21, 2020
This is a book that deals with personal and social issues. It is set in two different timelines, Zimbabwe in the present and in the past of 1975 with two narrators that of Tumi and his grandmother.

The central character is a teenage boy, Tumi who is the first albino in his school. He also deals with issues that other teenagers do such as trying to fit in and doing well in school. However he is made to feel like an outsider due to his light skin and hair colour.

His older brother, Mkoma plays the father figure in Tumi's life. When he goes travelling for work, then he has to stay with his grandmother who write letters to him and shares her past.

In Spring of 1975 Ambuya Thandie, Tumi's grandmother shares her life stories of Zimbabwe's war for independence.

Tumi starts to understand more by listening to these stories of hardship and bravery.

I liked how the author had two first person narratives because it makes you have a greater insight of all the characters. The writing styles varies as there is the main text, written letters and diary account. It also has non-English words so it's authentic. It would've been even better if these had a translation in the footnote so it didn't feel like I missed part of the reading or understanding of the storyline.

I received an e-book from Netgalley.
Profile Image for Rhiannon.
135 reviews12 followers
June 6, 2020
This book is very emotinal and challanging it does have some light hearted moments. I read this book as its a book that I wouldnt normally read and out of my comfort zone. I enjoyed reading this book. The book deals with challanges with Race and being diffrent but also has a message of hope. there are some pretty tough chapters. This book should be made avilibale in all Schools and Libarys espcally with what is currently happening in the world right now. I like the fact that the Author wrote this book from her own family experinces and others that lived through the time that she writes about in the book. Set in Zambiwe in Modern times follows are main charcture who is A talnted Swimmer and also has Albinism and lives with his brother and neice. They go and stay with there grandmother and Tumi has to face his past as well as listening to his Grandmothers harrowing Past liveing through the Independant war. I love the fact that all the chractures have journeys I like the mix of diary fonts and going between Tumi story and his chractures. It is a tough read and one that needs to be told I learnt a lot about culture and how people in Africa who have Albinisim are treated. This book deserves all the praise and Hype I really do hope Goodreads does include it in there Awards this year I will deffo be voting this book should win all the Awards I will deffiantly be buying a copy and checking out the Authors other Works. my advice if you want to read this book take it slowly and have tissues nearby you will need them. Thankyou so much to Netgalley and The Publishers and the Author for letting me read this Book and to give my honest opinion 5 out of 5 stars from me.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jasmine Guffick.
43 reviews3 followers
September 14, 2020
This book was a very powerful read, it shook me to the core in parts and I shall remember it forever.
Tumirai is a young teen with albinism and this story covers his trouble facing making friends and fitting but more importantly dealing with the fact he is essentially hunted down by his uncle because of his albinism.
The book also covers Tumirai's grandmothers story his Umbaya. Thandiwe is her name and we are told her story through the pages in her diary. I felt the transition in the stories was done very well and it was not too fast paced or slow paced. I felt a deep connection with Tumirai from the get go and then began to have a connection with Thandiwe as well.
This book is not at all for the faint hearted but it touches upon very real issues and is a must read. If this book upsets you or makes you feel something then good. that is what it is supposed to do. I don't believe it is supposed to be an easy read by any means. Racism isn't an easy thing for the people living it whether it is in the 70s or modern day.
This was both heartwarming for new relationships made and heartwrenching at all the same and I will certainly be passing this along to others to read.
Profile Image for Megan.
32 reviews
September 22, 2020
Tumi is a 14 year old boy in high school. He loves swimming, it's what he is good at and makes him feel like he fits in. Why doesn't he feel like he fits in? He has albinism. He struggles through high school with racism, people telling him he's too white to be black, not realising the hurt of their words.
Tumi is just weeks away from tryouts for the swimming nationals, when he is shipped off to his Grandmother's (Ambuya). The nightmares return as he returns what happen's to his last time he was there where he barely escaped with his life. Will Tumi's nightmares come true?
Whilst there, Tumi hears the story of his grandmother as she suffers racism and violence through the war whilst the "girlie' for a white family.

The is a good five star read and it was at times quite moving and emotive. I love the narrative of Tumi alongside learning the past of his Ambuya. It is essential to learn and understand the historical racism people have suffered in the past, to continue to understand the racism that occurs in the world today. This book couldn't have come out at a more relevant time in the world.
35 reviews2 followers
October 6, 2020
A very powerful and extremely important book. I have to say, my knowledge of geography and world history is quite poor, something I am working to rectify, and this book certainly helped with that. I learnt about another culture and the history of another country, which is effectively the history of my country too. The way that the two stories, which I understand were originally conceived separately, were weaved together was absolutely flawless. I couldn't put the book down, and in the end I stayed up until I had finished reading it, because I had to know how it ended. The message of the novel is very powerful and the lessons it teaches are imperative. I felt the whole time I was reading that, although I know things like this have and still do happen, I need a book like this to remind me every day of the horrors and emotions that go with that fact. The writing style is extremely accessible and it's a book suitable not just for YA but for all ages of adults too. I will definately be lending it to my sister next. The author has exceeded herself since her first novel and so I really look forward to the next. Highly recommend.
60 reviews
June 29, 2020
This novel has two intertwined stories focused on a young albino boy and his grandmother when she was young.
Set in present day Zimbabwe the young albino boy is faced with persecution based on his albinism. When he was a young boy his uncle attacked and kidnapped him while he was living with his grandmother who he no longer trusts. He is working hard to become part of the Zimbabwe swim team.
He is sent to stay with his grandmother and starts to hear her story from when she was young and lived through Zimbabwe's independence wars in 1975.
The grandmother worked at the time for a British Colonial family and is in love with their young nephew. However he has to go against his family to even speak to her.
Both stories are powerful and hard to read at time as both face persecution and trauma, however the novel is easy to read and flows well. I really enjoyed the intertwining and similarities of their stories. Both characters were well thought out and I enjoyed finding out what happens to them.
128 reviews2 followers
September 6, 2020
The solace of sport

Fifteen-year-old Tumirai lives with his protective big brother, Mkoma in Harare, Zimbabwe. He's the first albino kid ever to have attended his school and constantly feels like an outsider.

When his brother is invited to go travelling for work, Tumirai goes to stay with their grandmother, Ambuya Thandie. She is scarred, in more ways than one, but her memory is a treasure trove - and her stories of Zimbabwe's war for independence are a long, long way from the history Tumirai has heard before.

The narrative skips between Tumi’s present day perspective and his grandma who retells her story from thr war and massacre in Rhodesia in the 1970s, drawing parrellels on their similar coping strategies.

I did struggle a little with the local language terms, frustratingly thr glossary appears at the end of thr novel, but would have been better at thr beginning and would certainly have added to the enjoyment of the read. This element did mean I found the book a little hard going at times.

However, this is an original book and important storytelling.
36 reviews
January 11, 2021
I like novels which take me to a whole new world. Usually, these are historical or science fiction and often involve the main character who doesn't really fit in as this provides a window on the situation for the reader.

This novel is of rather recent history as it is set in modern Zimbabwe with an urban albino schoolboy visiting relatives in a rural area. But there is another story of his grandmother when she was a young woman in the time of apartheid, terror and turmoil shortly before Rhodesia gained independence. The two stories are successfully linked and interwoven so the reader is soon hooked and is determined to reach the outcome.

I have previously read another powerful story about the difficult life of an albino in Zimbabwe (The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah) so I already had some understanding of the prejudice and unease at the possible danger. Combining the themes of albinism and apartheid gives some very literal and unavoidable experiences of hatred and cruelty sprouting from skin colour.
14 reviews
January 23, 2021
Teen turmoil with a twist
Tumi is at that awkward adolescent teenage stage. Where you are no longer a child, yet not adult.
He is overcoming upsetting events in his past whilst navigating his way through school. Working hard with the aim of becoming captain of the school swim team.
Trying to fit in with peers but holding them at arms length only giving them the access to.the parts of his life he wants them to see.
Then his brother (who is also Tumi's care taker and father figure) has to leave town for work.
Meaning Tumi has to go to stay at his grandmothers with his young niece.
Leaving at such an important time may ruin his chance's of making captain of the swim team and going to holiday school in order to get the grades he needs.
What does that mean for swim team and his education?

I tried to avoid spoilers.

This was an enjoyable read. Reminding me that nothing on this earth could make me.go back to school and teenage years: The pressure, expectations, stress and not to mention hormones running rabid. No thank you!

Profile Image for Between2_worlds.
124 reviews6 followers
July 17, 2021
"The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

I'm upset. I'm infuriated.

I haven't felt this way about a book in a long time & reading Rutendo Tavengerwei's motivations of why she chose to write this story made me so mad.

I went in thinking I'd read about what it's like to live in this world as a person with albinism. I think most of us are very familiar with the atrocities faced by people with albinism especially here in Africa. Misinformation & weird beliefs have essentially contributed to their deaths.

And to a degree, Tavengerwei touched on this inhumane crime but she also managed to overshadow that with a retelling of the war pre Zimbabwe 's independence.

It is not the retelling of the war that infuriated me but rather how the missionaries were almost perceived as people who led with love.

How? How do you do that when your presence is a disruption? When you shove foreign gods down our throats? Steal our lands, terrorize us & make us criminals in that land. Then we must forgive you?

Are you joking?
No ways Rutendo Tavengerwei, no ways.
Profile Image for Olwethu Leshabane.
11 reviews1 follower
July 23, 2021
The Colours That Blind is a novel set in modern Zimbabwe but also takes a journey back into time with Tumi, a young man living with albinism. Tumi takes us on a time travel journey with of forgiveness, interracial and intergenerational relationships and healing.

As he desperately tries to make the Zimbabwean national team, a big deal for a highschool boy living with albinism in a time when he can feel the discrimination against him, he is sent back home to his grandmother (Ambuya) to spend his holidays and relives a trauma that of something horrible that happened to him.

Tumi and Ambuya travel back in time and start a journey of healing and forgiveness like no other.

This novel with make you weep; nudge heal you towards your healing and answer many questions you may have had or didn’t know you had about the history of Zimbabwe and the lived experience of the natives of Zimbabwe in early Rhodesia through the eyes of Ambuya.

Rutendo Tavengerwei is also the author of HOPE IS OUR ONLY WING, a must read novel.
Profile Image for Kirsty.
68 reviews1 follower
July 23, 2020

This book had the potential to be better than it actually was.

I enjoyed it, but felt like something was missing.

At the start, we learn about the main character...but only really that he likes swimming. He is an albino black lad...which is pretty unusual, but it doesn't really dwell on the fact, more just mentions it at the start and only once really again when his crazy uncle is out of prison in need of blood.

The way that African traditional language is used throughout is immensely confusing. It took me ages to figure out which characters were which, and that some had multiple names. This really irritated me, and irritated me more so when I realised once I'd finished the book that there was a glossary...

The story itself was a brilliant one, educational, emotional, shocking, heartwarming, but the confusion between who was who ruined it for me a bit.

Much preferred "Hope is our only wing" which I fully recommend
2,277 reviews9 followers
June 29, 2020
Tumi has albinism and feels the only way he can be accepted at school, escape hatred and a terrible thing that happened in his past is by swimming.
But at the time of the sports trials he is sent to stay with his grandmother where the memories of that awful night come racing back and through circumstances it it even has repurcussions now.
Somehow he seems to blame his "Ambuya" for what happened but is she really to blame?
When she reveals her past to him by telling her own shocking story Tumi sees that not everything is as black and white as it seems and even his grandmother has lived with terrible secrets and nightmares of her own.
This a wonderfully moving, powerful tale of racial hatred, war, illicit love, family secrets, redemption and the hope of a better future.
Never read this author before but she is amazing.
Profile Image for Sandra.
54 reviews1 follower
July 1, 2020
What a lovely book, was not sure originally but really glad I chose it. It is the story of a young boy growing up in Zimbabwe and the trials that he has to face from prejudice against his Albinism from his peers and even members of his own family.

He is sent to stay with his grandmother who has her own stories to tell, she grew up under apartheid when the country was Rhodesia, and he learns that he is not the only one that has struggled.

This is one of those books that when you start to read you cannot put down, I finished it in a couple of days, I would say that it is written for young adults but everyone should read it. The language used although simple is colourful and engaging.

In these days of Black lives matter I believe it is pertinent to today's political events, and should be recommended reading within schools.
Profile Image for Rhiannon.
39 reviews18 followers
July 2, 2020
Right from the start I found this book so interesting. I have never read a book like this before so I was so excited to read it. This is also the first book by Rutendo Tavengerwei I have read too. I did not know much about Albania before reading, so it was good to learn more about it.

There are a lot of issues discussed such as racism, family, friendship and just growing up in general. These topics are described really well, not over the top and not too little. I can imagine this would be really helpful for young adults and teenage readers.

I really like that there are two narratives; Tumi in the present day and Tumi's grandmother during the Zimbabwean independence in the 70s. Both timelines explore the struggles that they are both going through.

I would 100% recommend this to anyone. Even if you are you sure at first it is really worth giving it a chance.
Profile Image for Naadhira Zahari.
Author 2 books77 followers
July 11, 2020
The Colours That Blind is an emotional book but also heartwarming. Its about identity, of discrimination against the skin colour, the hate crimes that existed in Zimbabwe and a story unlike any other I've read before.

I really wanted to get into Tumi's story through the phases that he went through but unfortunately I couldn't really get into it. It was quite slow most of the time and it was only towards the end that things started to pick up.

I honestly was more interested to read Tumi's story and not so much of Ambuye. As the synopsis mentioned about swimming, I really thought it would play a huge part of it but as it turns out, there was really minimal of it.

For a YA novel, it is an utterly provoking, deep and meaningful story. It will teach readers to be more aware and conscious for what we do as it may affect the people and the way they perceive certain things.
1 review
August 24, 2020
Have to say I really loved this book. It takes the reader on a journey to a country where the colour of your skin means so much and not just the difference between black and white but also albinoism. The reader is transported through a journey of a teenage boy and his grandmother. This is weaved into the book really well, when the boy uncovers letters his grandmother sent his brother when he was away in America. The story of her journey is heartbreaking and also tells a love story. This helps build a level of understanding and helps the boy through his own issues due to the colour of his skin. At times its laugh out loud funny especially the little sister and at other times it's heart in your mouth anger and sadness about a world like this. I was gripped all the way through!
36 reviews1 follower
September 30, 2020
This book hit too close to home, the book already starting with "And to everyone who feels inadequate, you are enough."

Of course, I couldn't relate to Tumi, but as a person of Asian descent and often a target of school as one of the only Asian people, I couldn't help but relate to Tumi as he attended school and felt like an outsider as I did.

Tavengerwei has done a tremendous task, communicating so fluidly and effectively of what Tumi had gone through and the trauma that no one should ever face; readers just cannot help but journey with Tumi.

The concept itself is just absolutely unique and speaks for those who cannot, giving a voice to the voiceless, Tavengerwei undertaking such a difficult task that not many can do, that not many are willing to do. But through this book, millions can say that they are represented and given a voice.
14 reviews
October 6, 2020
this book will teach you a lot about Albania and the cultures and things people have to put up with who live there. I would love to have this book as is such a powerful story which combines relationships with social issues. the plot is incredible and the authors writing style is really unique.

There are a lot of issues discussed such as racism, family, friendship and just growing up in general. These topics are described really well, not over the top and not too little. I can imagine this would be really helpful for young adults and teenage readers to understand different cultures friendships and recent and present issues.

I really like that there are two narratives throughout the story: Tumi in the present day and Tumi's grandmother during the Zimbabwean independence in the 70s. The two timelines explore the struggles that they are both going through.
10 reviews1 follower
May 14, 2020
This is a really interesting book about identity and race, and I think a lot of people would benefit from reading it.

I liked the way that it is based on a true story and I was eager to know where it goes. It's a very insightful novel which covers a unique topic, but one that I think a lot of people could relate to. I personally find a true story more interesting and will be more drawn to them when selecting books, and this story feels very unique and not like one I'd read before.

The front cover is punchy and which was why I was drawn to it! I think it reflects the story well. I also really enjoyed Rutendo Tavengerwei's writing in this book - it's very illustrative and has good momentum.
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