#9 Discover Ten New Authors of Colour
Red Blood Yellow Skin by Linda L. T. Baer
This is the story of one girl's life in Vietnam.
She was born Nguyen Thi Loan in 1947 and she lived through three wars in Vietnam - between the Vietnamese and the French in the 1940s-50s, then the civil war between North and South Vietnam, then she is a young woman when America sent almost half a million soldiers to the country in the 1960s.
It's an incredible story, We learn of her life as a young child in rural Vietnam. We learn of her simple lifestyle and family traditions. We see how the fighting affected her family and neighbours. We learn of the mass exodus and flight to the south which left thousands homeless and starving.
We learn of how her family survived and the sacrifices they had to make.
Linda has such a strong spirit and she grew up in situations which are almost impossible to contemplate, yet she survived and found her own way, by her own initiative, by luck and by courage.
This book tells of events from the humble perspective of an ordinary person. There is no political agenda. It's a simple testimony. For that reason, it's an incredibly powerful and enthralling story.
Valentina by S. E. Lynes
This story is deceptively simple and surprisingly good.
There are three main characters - Shona, Mikey and Valentina.
I liked Shona. She’s struggling with her new baby and with her lovely new house. She's moved to the Scottish countryside and she's hundreds of miles from her friends. She wants to make her marriage work. She’s proud and doesn’t want to admit her new life isn’t working for her. Doesn’t want her new husband, nor her old friends and family, to know how alone and isolated she feels. Shone is also no push-over, as we’ll see as the story progresses.
Then there’s Valentina. Valentina is charismatic, charming and beautiful, and the new best friend Shona’s been longing for. But is Valentina really such a good friend?
Mikey wasn’t someone I liked and, as the story progressed, I liked him even less. He thinks he can have everything, and, for a while, he does.
The first part of this story was a bit slow for my liking. However, the author has a nice style of writing where Shona is talking directly to the reader and reflecting back on her choices. This feels very personal and deflects from, even makes up for, the slowish pace.
The friendship/love/hate triangle between the Shona, Valentina and Mikey, plays itself out in unexpected ways. Toward the end of the book, we switch from Shona to Valentina’s view point, and the story really becomes enthralling.
The tension builds throughout – going from innocent beginnings to disaster.
We had a lovely time in Barcelona - plenty of paella, tapas and a Flamenco show.
Then some fantastic days snorkelling at Platya d'Aro.
Here's a photo from the Flamenco show - they were wonderful musicians and, dramatic dancers.
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