The Color of Our Sky

A Novel Set in India

Fiction - Social Issues
416 Pages
Reviewed on 05/28/2015
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Author Biography

Amita Trasi was born and raised in Mumbai, India. She has an MBA in Human Resource Management and has worked with various International corporations for seven years. She currently lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and two cats. This is her first novel. Visit her website at www.amitatrasi.com

    Book Review

Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite

Although distressing, painful and despairing, Amita Trasi's writing portrays the resilient power of hope and the unbreakable bond of friendship in The Color of Our Sky: A Novel Set in India. Two young girls, with very different backgrounds and personalities, form an everlasting alliance. Mukta, born into a generational curse, is bound by the tradition of prostitution. Like her mother and grandmother before her, Mukta’s destiny is to be a slave to the Hindu goddess, Yellamma. Tara, born into prominence, is free to choose who and what she will become. Tara’s kind-hearted father rescues Mukta and brings her home to live. The two young girls forge a unique childhood kinship, believing they would always be together. Then one night Mukta is kidnapped. Their lives are ripped apart. Days turn into years, and there is no reason to believe they could one day be reunited. But, “Hope always outweighs reason.”

The Color of Our Sky is a story of monumental courage. I admire the eloquence of Amita Trasi. Through her exceptional gift of storytelling, she genuinely expresses the horror of sex trafficking without being repulsively horrific, and describes the profane without using profanity. She pens profound images of India, revealing the life, traditions and religious rituals of her native homeland. Through poetic metaphors and sensory descriptions, the reader becomes a part of the unfolding story. In this novel written in first person, you experience first hand what the characters see, hear and feel. You see the stars in the sky through hopeful eyes, you smell the despair and grief of the brothel, and you hear the cries of the enslaved victims. You cannot help but be touched by the inspirational story of The Color of Our Sky. This beautiful quote from the novel sums up this poignant story: “When you bind one’s thoughts with words that touch the soul, they call it inspiration.”

Nandita Keshavan

The Colour of Our Sky by Amita Trasi is a truly gripping, heart wrenching, cleverly woven story of a friendship between two girls who survive extraordinary circumstances. Written skillfully by interweaving subplots, the novel begins with the childhood of Mukta, the daughter of a practicing Devadasi, or prostitute of the Yellamma tradition. This book shows the harsh realities of this cruel system of slavery which is not made any more righteous by dedication to Goddess Yellama.

The innocence with which Trasi depicts Mukta's character in childhood is bittersweet. She had always questioned who her father was, and never was introduced to him as a child, although it was known that he was well educated and had similar green eyes. When her mother is suffering with HIV, and she is convinced that her father would not claim her, being naively unaware of the reality of her future she gives in to her grandmother's insistence on initiating her as a Devadasi, without her mother's knowledge. The initiation sadly forbids her from marrying and she is immediately committed to a life of a prostitute. Furthermore, she is bought by a Mumbai brothel, and would risk her life if she tried to escape.

The killing of her mother is abrupt and brings Mukta great pain, from which she never fully recovers. Immediately, she is taken to Mumbai to live with an NGO activist, Ashok, his wife, known as Aai, and his daughter, Tara. There, she lives a subservient life due to the disdain of Aai for her background. However, the kindness of Ashok and the friendship with Tara make her life bearable and even at times pleasant. Whether she finds out who her father is, whether he shows remorse for neglecting her, whether her safe haven with the family in Mumbai will last forever, and whether Tara's innocent friendship with her remains constant are important questions at the heart of the novel.

The plot twists in such a way as to strain the trust and friendship between Tara and Mukta, and as the story progresses, new acts are revealed in the characters' pasts. Guilt and forgiveness are frequent themes, and seemingly perfect characters show flaws which make them more culpable than initially portrayed. Both Tara and Mukta gain an important addition to their lonely lives in the darkest of times, but the losses they face are difficult, and the strength they show is inspiring. Will Mukta ever be treated fairly and know firsthand what it is to love and marry? It is a compelling question that drives the reader to hold onto hope in the face of the most difficult events.

The village where Mukta grew up is fictitious but her background, childhood home and the brothel in Mumbai are based on real life places and practices which still happen today. Trasi maintains a somber and factual tone in difficult scenes and the narrative is interspersed with deeply touching and lyrical moments. An ubiquitous effect of Trasi's depiction of characters in tough struggles is one of helpless numbness, and this leaves the reader with an infuriating sense of injustice. This book is a literary achievement in creating awareness of the tragic lives, hopes, dreams and struggles of girls such as Mukta, and the interesting and bittersweet interface of the two entirely different worlds of Mukta and Tara.

Gisela Dixon

The Color of Our Sky: A Novel Set in India by Amita Trasi is a socially relevant fictional novel set in India. This is a story about the friendship between two girls from totally different backgrounds and the ties that bind them together. Mukta is a young girl born into the tradition of devdasis in which girls are married off to the goddess and are supported by the well-to-do men of the community in a form of age-old prostitution. To escape from this tradition, Mukta is taken into the care of a foster family in Mumbai who also have a young daughter named Tara. A friendship forms between the two girls and continues for five years until Mukta is mysteriously kidnapped one night. Soon after, Tara and her family move to America where Tara is told that Mukta is dead. However, eleven years after the kidnapping, Tara learns that Mukta may be still alive and returns to India to find her. What follows is an intriguing tale of sadness, strength, and hope as long buried secrets come to light.

The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi is an extremely well written and engaging novel. The theme is very real and socially relevant on the topics of sex slavery, forced prostitution, and the red-light district. The characters are well drawn and the writing style is very lyrical, almost poetic at times, with vivid descriptions of people and places. This is the kind of book where the quality of writing shines through and makes it an enjoyable read in itself, and at the same time sends out a strong, positive social message. This is definitely a must-read book.