The Colour of Words

I’ve just finished reading Malorie Blackman’s excellent Noughts & Crosses. It is a book that was on my reading list for a long time, and it was my little sister who finally inspired me to pick it up.

Little sister usen’t be the read-y type, she is more the music-y type (or should that be musical, because she is TALENTED). But little sister is now an English teacher, and she had to vet Noughts & Crosses for her school library. It blew her away, the fact that plasters in Blackman’s world came only in one skin tone, this captured her imagination in the way that every author hopes that their writing can change perception. My 25-year-old sister is now more aware in her day-to-day life of the nuances of power that can be derogatory, not just based on skin-tone, but on religion and ethnicity as well. Being a ‘Paddy’ in London has helped this awareness too, but now she has begun to question how access and attitude to education in the formative years can make or break a societal class…she has seen first-hand in the classroom what wealth and power mean and Malorie’s book has allowed her to contextualise what she has witnessed and how it will shape her students’ futures.

For me the startling point was the voice…beyond the Prologue each chapter is told in first person point of view, alternating so you get to hear each of the characters progress the story…the voice, the narrative tone from inside the character’s own heads had no colour, unless you saw their reflections in the mirror through their own eyes you would not guess at the colour of their skin. And I think that this is Malorie Blackman’s point (but feel free to correct me). That people sound the same on the inside. Malorie flipped the world that we know on its head. To challenge our views by presenting us with our world from an entirely different perspective. And she did this very successfully. Knife Edge and Checkmate are next.

Have you read these books? What did you think? How would you classify these in the Young Adult age bracket (completely trying to define where The Preacher’s Boy sits so feel free to ignore this question 🙂 )

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2 thoughts on “The Colour of Words

  1. Hi BFP. After reading your review I will be placing Naughts & Crosses on my wish list. Will see if it is available in eBook format?

    Could I take this opportunity to include a recommendation of my own? Recently, I completed a first read of: The Selfish Society by Sue Gerhardt. Gerhardt explores the theme of: ” How we all forgot to love one another and made money instead.”

    Her book is a pretty powerful, no holes barred analysis of societies like for example our late Celtic Tiger. She looks at how early influences in children’s lives can be makers or breakers, from the point of view of their eventual contributing, or not, as adults within what we all believe needs to be a caring society.

    Liked your post.

    1. Wow, thanks dubmantalks…that looks like something I would be very interested in reading myself…I am all about early influences in childhood (hoping that somehow I won’t screw my two up in the process of their childhood)!
      I’m sure it is on eBooks…but if not, a trip to someplace incredibly old-fashioned, like the library, might net you a copy…usually stacked in Young Adult section!

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