top of page


The Colour of the Sun

"In the beginning of Gillian Thorp’s intensely personal and moving memoir, The Colour of the Sun, an early reader remarks: “… there are some stories that don’t just stick with you; they become a part of you.” I quote this observation because it’s true. Sometimes, one comes across an exquisite piece of writing that inhabits one’s own being with the wisdom, experience, compassion, and transformative, cleansing tears of another. One does not simply imbibe a journal of distant recollections. Instead, we are privileged to share the vivid intimacy and higher meaning more often meant for the individual alone. Only great courage and generosity from an author allows this deeper thing to happen. 

When the author writes as beautifully as Gillian Thorp in The Colour of the Sun, magic happens. Her story begins in South Africa, and her indelible opening sentence should become a classic of the genre: “I was born among thieves.” In addition, Ms. Thorp employs an irresistible style for telling her life story. First, she speaks as an observer of her time and place with unrelenting, gorgeous prose on which the smitten reader simply wants to float. Then, like a spirit come to earth, she inhabits uniquely defining moments with her unresisting, lucid presence. Just so, the reader is invited to share both her objective observations and her vivid memories. You will not be left unscarred. You will not be left unchanged. This book will indeed become a part of you. Even the trail of tears you walk on at the end will become a part of your path, too."

-Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers’ Favorite

"Avid readers know there are some stories that don't just stick with you; they become a part of you. They live deep within the crevices of your mind and completely reshape the lens with which you view the world. This is one of those stories. In THE COLOUR OF THE SUN, Thorp unabashedly shares her own gripping life story to shed light upon the parts of humanity that haunt most of us like a shadow - racism, mental illness, abuse, addiction, violence, loneliness. And yet, a story punctuated by such a devastatingly steady stream of misfortune is threaded by perseverance, by strength, by education, and - most importantly - by love. In one single book, Thorp manages to encapsulate the entirety of what it is to be human." 

-Candice Jalili, author of Just Send The Text

“Gillian Thorp’s story of a childhood in South Africa, an adolescence in California, and an adulthood marked by profound grief and resilience is a gripping read. Racism, abuse, loss seem to follow her wherever she goes, until she builds the courage to stand up to them and for herself and her children. This book combines the grit and determinism of Cheryl Strayed’s WILD with the vivid realism of Alexandra Fuller’s DON’T LET’S GO TO THE DOGS TONIGHT.”

—Jan Johnson, publisher emerita Red Wheel/Weiser Books and independent publishing consultant

"Thorp isn’t being modest when she says, “I have always been a keen observer with a memory for the minutiae of a moment…” because the The Colour of the Sun brims with gritty sensual details. Whether she is recounting her peripatetic and turbulent childhood in South Africa, the social isolation she experiences as an illegal immigrant in America, or the agony of depression just when she finally finds her footing, Thorp holds nothing back, and for that, I was indelibly grateful. A terrific compelling read."

-Lisa Kusel, author of Rash

"From the very first line of “I was born among thieves,” I was hooked. The Colour of the Sun is an incredible, honest journey through the extraordinary life of Gillian Thorp. Thorp delivers an emotional memoir, with a touch of humor, from the figures in her life, to the challenges of growing up under Apartheid South Africa to the struggles of coming to America and starting a family. Thorp is a wonderful storyteller who takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride through a mixture of extreme heartbreak to pure joy. Once I started, I could not put it down. The Colour of the Sun is a terrific memoir."

Scott Magruder  

Digital Content Producer 

KRNV News 4 & Fox 11

Educational consultant Thorp explores trauma, identity, and resilience in a debut memoir about her upbringing in South Africa and the United States.

Born to mixed-race parents in South Africa in 1971, the author candidly describes the contours of her world as they were dictated by the racist segregation of apartheid. Officially designated as “Coloured” despite her fair skin, Thorp spent her childhood dealing with the effects of institutional poverty, social stratification, and government oppression. However, she remembers her earliest years fondly due to her adoration of her artistic, sensitive father. After his sudden suicide when Thorp was only 3, she began to become aware of the hardships of life under an unjust system. She was shuffled between homes and then to a farm for years, and she tells of being sexually abused by her stepfather. Around 1989,she and her family settled in Reno, Nevada, as undocumented immigrants. Thorp vividly reflects on specific moments in her chaotic and often painful life, such as a morning in South Africa when she was sent from her grandmother’s home to boarding school:“I hear Granny take in a deep breath and let out a sigh behind me. I turn. She is still at the counter, but she has stopped packing the food, and I see her staring out the small kitchen window into the teeth of the sunrise.” Thorp’s words are suffused with intense emotion, and her memories often take shape as disjointed snippets; throughout, she effectively gets across the experience of a child desperately trying to make sense of a hostile world. As she came to grips with the ways that she and her family were victimized, she struggled with her sense of identity. In this book, Thorp unflinchingly and sympathetically describes her sense of loss, depression, and anger but also reveals how she found her way toward perseverance and self-love.

A deeply heartfelt remembrance about healing the wounds of trauma.

-Kirkus Reviews 



bottom of page