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Review of "The Color of Absence"

By James Howe (Editor)
Pulse, 2001
Review by Susan Wingate on Feb 18th 2004
The Color of Absence

"Loss may take many forms…but with loss comes opportunity for reevaluation, change and growth".  This is a book written for young readers, providing a forum to address the issues of grief and loss. A collection of 12 stories resonating with humor, both "touching and uplifting", as well as sad, carries the reader through the challenges young people struggle with on a regular basis, in dealing with the loss of those people, places and things, most important to their world.

Extraordinary presentations of the most common of events, marks this book as a must read for both adolescents and adults alike. The simplicity of the storytelling leaves the reader experiencing a depth of feelings as varied as the stories. Each storyteller weaves a message, explaining the process of loss. The creativeness, in which the writers' pull from their own personal life experiences, validates both the quality of the story and the reader that may have a personal connection to the events of the story.  

AVI in "A Note From the Author" addresses an important issue that becomes a pivotal point for many, based on how "loss" is defined and interpreted.  Does it mean, "something is missing" and needs to be "replaced"?  Is it simply a natural process of "change", therefore, we are all subject to the same process? If this were the case, then why are there so many "different" responses to the same issue?

Knowing that there are some issues (loss, being one) that go beyond the boundaries of age, gender educational and social/economical status, can sometimes make all the difference in the world to someone feeling isolated and alone. This book teaches us how to connect, and for some, reconnect with the act of living by allowing ourselves to feel the person(s), place(s) and/or thing(s) we have lost our connectedness to.

I would personally and professionally recommend this book to all audiences. The stories are thought provoking, emotionally healing and delightfully refreshing. This material has the potential to reach many young readers through its non-threatening, non-evasive approach to a very difficult subject.  It invites the reader to examine his or her own life experiences vicariously through the words of others, while empowering the reader to draw his or her own conclusions, on how to relate to the stories.


© 2004 Susan Wingate



Susan Wingate is currently working for the Department of Corrections of North Carolina in the capacity of Program Supervisor for Substance Abuse Treatment, in a maximum security prison for women.