Monday 15 November 2021

Book Review: The Colour of the Sky is the Shape of the Heart by Chesil (Contemporary YA)

Title: The Color of the Sky is the Shape of the Heart
Author: Chesil
Publisher: Soho Teen
Publication Date: 1 February 2022
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: ARC via NetGalley

On the heels of success of Min Jin Lee's Pachinko and Kazuki Kaneshiro's Go, this award-winning debut--now in translation for the first time--is a groundbreaking moment in YA fiction, exploring the complexities of growing up as a Zainichi Korean in Japan, emigration, and adolescent trauma.

Oregon, 2003. Seventeen-year-old Ginny Park is about to get expelled from high school--again. Ginny lives with Stephanie, an award-winning picture book author, who took Ginny in after she was kicked out of Catholic school in Hawaii. As far as host mothers go, Stephanie is as saintly as they come; still, Ginny can't bring herself to open up to her or anyone about what prompted her to flee from her native Japan. Together they live in a house littered with scraps of paper and drawings for the stories Stephanie's been writing. A mysterious scrawl Ginny finds one day reads,
The sky is about to fall. Where do you go?

In search of an answer and a home, Ginny sets off alone on the road. Writing in her journal along the way, Ginny reflects upon her childhood growing up zainichi--an ethnic Korean living in Japan--and the incident that forced her to leave five years ago. When the pieces of her life are revealed, a portrait emerges of a girl who has been fighting alone against barriers of race, nationality, and injustice all her life.


The Color of the Sky is the Shape of the Heart by Chesil was a thoughtful YA contemporary read. I feel it was perhaps a mistake to reference Pachinko in the blurb because, while they tackle the same theme, they do so on a different scale and with a different audience in mind, so if you come to this book expecting something like Pachinko, you might be disappointed. The Color of the Sky is the Shape of the Heart is a story on a much smaller scale, but it is no less impactful for that. Ginny was an engaging character who caught my interest from the start and held it throughout. You could really see her grow throughout the course of the story as she dealt with the difficulty of always being an outsider. Her story contained some dark moments and difficult themes, but ultimately there was a spark of hope. I consumed the book in a single night and it gets a solid 4-star rating from me.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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