Book Review- The Color Master by Aimee Bender

This is not the post I was planning for today, but seeing as I have a midterm for my hardest class in the morning, I decided this would be the easiest to complete. Plus, I have already read two and a half books in this month alone, so I will get behind if I don’t write it any sooner!

I read a review for this book (I really need to start writing down where I read them) and decided to pick it up for myself. Similar to when I picked up the book by Diane Keaton, this was not something I usually choose. This book is a collection of short stories. As I am in English in university, I have read my fair share of short stories, so the concept is not new to me. However, I have never read an entire collection. Overall experience? Pretty awesome actually. Aimee Bender managed to completely draw me in with every story. I forgot that the stories were not part of a larger work. So much detail in so little pages. With this in mind, the quotes I choose for this will not have any significance in a book as a whole, but little snippets within the stories.
1.       I am on hell of a big resentment, she said. The mirror and the wall did not answer. They knew very well what she was like by now (18). 

This is such a powerful thought. It is no joke that being a child is easier when we did not give in to societal expectations and self-esteem starts to go down. But imagine, by personifying the rooms around you, it’s almost as if they can tell you your own story. You literally watch yourself grow up mirrors, but what would the mirror say if it could talk back.  

2.       I’m really really lucky she’s my sister. Otherwise no one like her would give me the time of day (29). 

This quote hit home for me because of my own sister. We are complete opposites. I don’t think we’d be friends if we met as not sisters. She’s logic and math. I’m emotion and English. However, in true opposition fashion, she disagrees with me. We are opposites, but we balance each other out perfectly.  

3.       That’s the thing with handmade items. They still have the person’s mark on them, and when you hold them, you feel less alone (31). 

The holidays are over, but I’ll tell you that my favourite gift was the homemade one my best friend made for me. Homemade is something I don’t usually have the creativity for, but when I do, it feels amazing to give it away. I love the notion that you really are putting a little piece of yourself in with it. And no matter what, that gift will be a reminder of you, of the friendship, and of love.  

4.       It is so often surprising, who rescues you at your lowest moment (33).  

I am so skeptical of this idea, but I find it to be true. I had a personal issue happen in October-ish, and someone I was not close with at the time happened to be right there when it all spiralled down. After that, she has been a close friend. She was able to lift me out of my dark place when she hardly knew me. I am ever so thankful for people like this in my life.

5.       They formed their identities in the negative space instead (75). 

To me, this encompasses what I believe in. Real, not ideal. People want to be part of what everyone else is a part of. The pieces printed in colour. However, they do not always realize that negative space allows for creativity and the ability to make mistakes. By being your own person, you are not held to the same expectations everyone else is. Find out who you are. Be that person. And love that person.  

6.       Here was a tasselless moment, without instruction or order or guilt or implication (82). 

You’ll have to read the story to find out what “tasselless” refers to, but this is a moment of pure freedom. I had it about a month and a half ago. It was a feeling of pure trust and excitement and there was not a worry in my head. I had not felt that in a while, and even now, I am content by all that conspired. Hold on to those feelings of freedom.  

7.       Color is nothing unless next to other colors, the Color Master told us all the time. Color does not exist alone (171).

This story is what the book is named after. To me, this quote connects to people. Every person is reflective of a colour. By ourselves, we can learn about our colour and how it can be used to help us. We do not see the way it is portrayed in the world until we come across people of other colours. Some mix better than others, but together, we make a rainbow because it includes the entire spectrum of colours.  

8.       …and in contrast to the general lore that good men were difficult to find, here were four, almost instantly, who were ready to take her mourning and knead it into their hearts (185). 

How beautiful is this thought? I am in no way expecting four men to start lining up at my door, but I am confident that one day, someone will come along that wants to share a life with me. He will want to share my experiences and emotions and want to understand what makes me feel the way I do.

9.       We are all, generally, symmetrical: ants, elephants, lions, fish, flowers, leaves. But she was a tree. No one expects a tree to be symmetrical at all. It opens its arms, in its unevenness, and he, the butterfly, flew inside (189).  

I think this is indicative of how relationships work. It’s the notion of being safe. It’s the unexpected ways that people can affect you. It’s how people go together. We are all the same in our differences.

Overall, I give this book 3.5/5 stars. As I said, each individual story captured me in amazing ways. I was left with unanswered questions at some points, and I am not entirely sure how some stories were tied together. The magical elements and the exploration of realities kept things interesting. If you like reading short stories, then I would suggest this for you.

Have you ever read a collection of short stories? Do you suggest any collections?


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