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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Running from Color: A Novel by Morenike' starts with a personal letter from the author which expresses a racist experience she had at Walmart, one that opened her eyes to the painful reality of racism. At the end of the letter, she states with a good measure of pride: “I am a beautiful shade of brown thanks to a chocolate woman & vanilla chocolate man.” With a setting in Sugarlock, Tennessee in the 1920s, the book follows the story of the family of Paul and Mildred Grass, their daughter, Olive, and the illegitimate child, Wheat.
The family had been living peacefully until the birth of Wheat, a child with fair skin and green eyes, who becomes the center, not just of attraction, but of problems in the community, eventually leading to the death of the mother. Paul is left with no choice but to raise the illegitimate child alone with his older daughter, Olive. But racism in the South drives him mad and he dies. Olive blames the little girl for the death of her parents and runs off to Chicago. Follow the two girls in their struggle against colorism and racism and how their destinies become entwined in a way they can’t deny. For how long will they have to run away from poor treatment due to their skin shade?
This is a painful story, gripping and eye-opening, a story that brings to readers one of the painful realities of American history, a part of a culture that has stigmatized many souls: it’s a story of the color line. The writing is beautiful and readers will enjoy the way the author weaves details into the story, exploring emotions in the characters and injecting a powerful sense of history into the narrative. The prose is excellent, with unique turns of phrase and precision when it comes to diction. Running from Color: A Novel is emotionally charged, and the psychological conflict is treated with unusual skill and mastery. It’s very enjoyable and I couldn’t stop reading.