RAINBOW centers around Taylor Dawson, a Black female college student and basketball player who has aspirations of one day playing in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). Her journey begins on the bus to attend the Millions More March, which was held in October of 2005 in Washington, DC to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Million Man March. Here, she meets Melony, a gorgeous Black woman who draws her in immediately. As Taylor and Melony become closer, they begin a relationship as ardent as it is secretive. But when Melony decides she no longer wants them to keep things confidential (as well as uncommunicative), Taylor opposes the idea, forcing her to question why she still prefers to stay in the closet. Is she worried about what others will think, or does the truth hit closer to home?
On the surface, Verde Arzu’s RAINBOW can be read simply as a romantic novella about two women who fall in love during their college years. But there is also an undercurrent of sociopolitical discussion crackling beneath the main storyline. Sometimes, it is overtly mentioned by the characters themselves while other times it isn’t. But it is always present. The simple way in which the story is told—as a love story, a coming-of-age story, and a story of self-realization—is what makes it so effective.
The book’s triumph is how genuine and personal Taylor’s story feels while still tackling these serious issues head on. The prose style is succinct and to the point, which only adds to the realism. There isn’t much lingering description, but the reader knows everything they need to know in order to follow and enjoy the plot, as most of the description is focused on Taylor’s emotions. And the regular breaks in the prose to share a drawing, a partial poem, and even visual text messages between the characters make the story feel fresh and young.
If any hiccup exists, it may be in the transition between RAINBOW and SURRENDER, the prose poem included at the end for the novella, but readers will quickly comprehend that these are two distinct tales with their own characters, electricity, and descriptions of a similar but separate experience.
Verde Arzu’s novella, RAINBOW, will easily draw in readers of all backgrounds to experience a tale about Blackness, about queerness, but also about one woman learning to allow all the love that she deserves into her life.
~Julia Tilford for IndieReader