Thank you to Spark Press for a free copy of Colorblind in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
I have some mixed feelings on this one, readers. While the topic is one that is much needed in our current social climate, its treatment leaves much to be desired. Every chapter unearths a new stereotype to refute or a new prejudice to combat. The prejudice goes beyond racism, but also against those with physical disabilities. The protagonist, Lisa, has a cleft palate and a cleft lip and is constantly bullied. She finds solace in Miss Loomis’ classroom, but the bullies find her wherever she goes. While this provides several learning opportunities for students, it was overwhelming to read about negative thought about negative thought.
The multiple and unending prejudice felt like a trope, overused and too much the focus of attention. There is a teacher that promotes her own racist agenda in every lesson and punishes those students that don’t conform. Luckily, Lisa is not one to take such treatment sitting down. There were characters that seemed to be created simply for the novelty, which made me cringe at certain moments. One of the main issues I had was with character described as the “grown woman who just happened to be a midget.” I applaud Bowron for using terms of the time, but it felt out of place and put in the book for the shock value. The time and place in which we live, terms like that just aren’t acceptable. I worry for the younger students that read that and other terms in this book and think that they are okay. While the depictions of prejudice may be accurate, they were overwhelming-especially for the middle grade audience.
Here’s what I did enjoy about the book: the message about standing your ground, its simple prose, and the lesson that no matter how old you are, you have a voice that should be heard. If used in conjunction with a civil rights unit or with some well-researched discussions, middle grade students would benefit from reading this with a class or with a parent. It’s a timely story about the importance of learning from our past and making changes for our future.
TL/DR: Colorblind creates opportunities for discussions on prejudice and how to stand up for what’s right, even when everyone else around you refuses to do so.
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