A Kirkus Review of The Colour of the Sun captured the emotion at the heart of my debut memoir.
Gillian 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.