The day that Marco’s mother died was a black day. His mother used to attach a color to every day and now that she is gone, Marco has taken it up in her place. Oskar was Marco’s happy place, the brightest yellow, but his color turned to rust after he betrayed Marco and their friendship has never recovered.
Marco lives with the pain over his lost friend and the guilt over his mother’s absence. His body also bears the scars of that fateful day and he can’t allow anyone to get close or to see him exposed. He covers up his body with clothes and he covers up his emotions so no one will see his weaknesses. He thinks that he is salmon, the color of a coward. When Oskar comes back to town, old feelings climb back up, but Marco can never forget how Oskar wasn’t there when he needed him most. Oskar has apologies to make and Marco is going to have to let down all of his defenses to live his life next to the only man he has ever truly wanted.
Anyta Sunday strikes a cord with a story about two friends who fell apart and then try and find their way back to each other. As the book opens, Marco is trying to figure out when his story with Oskar started. There are so many defining moments of their friendship and now all he can see is the hate he feels towards Oskar.
The book deals with heavier themes, but doesn’t come off as overly heavy as the writing has a lightness to it. The prose flows well and is filled with all of Marco’s colors, both the lighter ones and the darker ones as well. Marco’s feelings toward Oskar are justified, except only the two of them know what really happened, or maybe Marco thinks he does but he doesn’t know the whole story. It’s still of no consequence as Oskar’s words and actions left a scar on him as much as the accident itself.
Marco’s mother used to write plays and the tradition has been kept up to perform one of her plays each year. This is the last play she has written, only the ending wasn’t complete and the two that Marco’s father wrote mirror the struggles between Marco and Oskar. Marco has also remained close to Oskar’s younger sister and she expects Marco to put aside their differences and have everything be the way it used to be.
This is a slow burn story as Marco struggles with all of his feelings about his scarred body and about Oskar. Marco never knew that Oskar was gay and while Oskar has come out, Marco cannot find the courage. Marco is good at running. When he sees Oskar kissing another boy he runs and when Oskar wants to talk he runs and he even runs from his own voice and his own thoughts.
The book is also about family and is filled with secondary characters as well. Marco’s friend Ben was featured in Bottle Boys, a short story that was part of the Wish Come True anthology, and this story is set within the same time frame as that one. While Marco and Oskar’s story is a stand alone, there are details that could be missed from Ben’s story, but overall it would be easy to overcome.
I would have liked to have seen more details, even in the general sense, regarding Marco’s accident and then his recovery. He is dealing with so many things, but it didn’t seem like he ever had anybody to talk to regarding his mother or his scars or any of the thoughts in his head that were pulling him under and the story had jumps in time that weren’t filled in enough for me. The book is also set in Berlin, but it didn’t have a strong sense of place and I would have enjoyed more detail.
True Colors incorporates friendship, betrayal, loss, and ultimately forgiveness. The guys come full circle to get not only their friendship back, but to move forward to all of the brighter colors.
Sunglow yellow. The start of our story.