21 January, 2022

LitStaff Pick: Favorite 'Colorful' Books

A Fine White Dust
Cynthia Rylant

This short young adult fiction book changed my life as a young adult, and I am not just saying that, nor taking such a statement lightly. At a time when I was questioning myself, but more specifically my beliefs which stemmed from others’ beliefs, this is one of the three books that was invaluable to finding my individuality. All people have their own triad (or larger!) of reading which helped them become who they are, so I will refrain from explaining my own transformation. Just know that this brief review will probably contain spoilers.

This book was one of the first contradictions to what I had been told and taught in my private life as “truth”: religious doctrine. In it, Pete is introduced to the Man at a revival meeting where the Man is to save souls. All of Pete’s life he wanted saved, or at least to find some sort of true spiritual path. His best friend Rufus, a proclaimed nonbeliever, does not understand Pete’s new fascination with the Man, let alone Pete’s previous religious desires.

Pete ostracizes himself by becoming obsessed with the Man and his teachings. (Though as the reader, we can tell something isn’t quite right about the Man.) When the Man asks Pete to join him on a faith mission, Pete agrees to go, as he is experiencing self-induced estrangement of his loved ones and current life. On the night of departure, he packs his bags and waits… for no one. The Man doesn’t come for him; the Man fled town with a local young woman, assumingly not thinking twice about Pete.

Being with Pete on the journey, I felt his upset, disappointment, and even the sadness in eating crow. What I feel that he learns about blind faith–in religion and in people–was certainly something I took in when becoming me. A good lesson, really, for anyone who doesn’t constantly question and reevaluate their reality.

-Kyla Lucas

1 thought on “LitStaff Pick: Favorite 'Colorful' Books

  1. I just added "Gift of the Red Bird", "The Blue Cotton Gown" and "Olive's Ocean" to my reading list. Kudos to the contributors who told us about "colorful" titles that may not be in the mainstream public consciousness. I'd never heard of two of these.

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