True Colors by Kristin Hannah

“What is passion? It is surely the becoming of a person. . . . In passion, the body and the spirit seek expression . . . The more extreme and the more expressed that passion is, the more unbearable does life seem without it. It reminds us that if passion dies or is denied, we are partly dead and that soon, come what may, we will be wholly so.”

– Kristin Hannah, “True Colors”

Review:

Alright, so I’m not a romance reader. But I enjoyed two other books by this author, The Great Alone and The Nightingale. I wasn’t really sure what this one would be but it came through for 99 cents on my Kindle deals email and I went for it. The cover was pretty enough. I was a former “horse girl”. The cover was all I needed to go for this book.

This book chronicles the stories of three sisters over two decades. Winona, the oldest sister, is an ambitious lawyer. Aurora, the middle sister, is a stay-at-home wife and mother but lives a life without much romance. Vivi Ann, the baby of the family, is equally as ambitious as Winona, only involving horses. She’s the star of the family. She’s beautiful, athletic, friendly, and she catches everyone’s eye.


It’s… an okay book. It has some incredibly problematic elements, but now, nearly a year after reading, I am surprised at how the story has stayed with me. The start of the book is slow. It takes more than 100 pages for anything to happen. The writing is of great quality though, so for those of you who like to read, who like the 90s and like horses, won’t mind the long build up, especially for Winona’s story in comparison to Vivi Ann’s.

The resolution is satisfying enough, as far as multiple romance but I did have a couple of problems with this one. One of the main characters is “the fat sister”. The other is “the housewife sister” and the youngest is “the bumbleheaded blonde sister”. It took forever for personality to shine past caricatures. The reader is reminded every other paragraph of Winona’s size and that’s just not necessary. This size (which come to find out is actually insultingly small) makes her jealous and passive aggressive and just plain unlikable. Her relationship with her father would have been enough to accomplish this. And Vivi Ann is seen for so long as empty headed, even by her sisters. It’s frustrating.


I’m also less than thrilled with the treatment of and characterization of the Native American ranch hand, who becomes a main character of the story. It’s his character that sticks with me so much because of the way he deals with the terrible plot and stereotypes he was given. I don’t want to give too much away. The elements of racism could have been explored differently, without creating the idea of a man of color about to devilishly steal the beautiful white woman.


Overall, it was okay, but Hannah’s privilege as a thin, beautiful, white woman is GLARINGLY obvious and likely to affect the reading of this book. I’ll read more by this author because I love her masterpieces that I’ve already mentioned, but I probably won’t read everything by her. I’ll be picky with some of her older books.

“Abuse can make an animal mean.”

– Kristin Hannah, “True Colors”

Pros:

  • Dallas is a compelling character, despite the flaws in his characterization.
  • Character development does finally occur near the end.

Cons:

  • Racist caricatures come into play in the plot of this story.
  • The author fat shames Winona and turns her into a bit of a villain in this story with the entire reasoning simply being that Winona is fat.
  • The middle sister’s character remains flat and there isn’t really a resolution for her.
  • The author tries to write a bit of a mystery into this story and that’s definitely not her forte in writing.

Rating:

  • ⭐⭐⭐

“She’d always imagined love to be turbulent and volatile, an emotion that would sweep her up and break her to pieces and reshape her into someone she couldn’t otherwise have become.”

– Kristin Hannah, “True Colors”

Recommended For:

  • “Horse Girls”
  • Those with some powerful 80s/90s nostalgia
  • Those wanting some strong family dysfunction, healing, and sister bonding

Books to Read if You Loved True Colors:

  • The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah (same author!)
  • One Summer by David Baldacci

Let’s Discuss! (Pick a question and drop a comment with your reply!)

  • How do you think Hannah could have rewritten this book to better develop Winona’s and Dallas’s characters?
  • Does a book get a pass for being a “product of its time”? Is 2009 so long ago that such writing should be viewed differently than it would be today?
  • What is your favorite book that features more than one love story simultaneously?

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