The book cover of Rainbow by Verde Arzu

Rainbow by Verde Arzu is a coming-of-age queer love story — plus, you could win a signed copy in the giveaway!

Thank you to Shannon of R&R Book Tours for sending me a free copy of Rainbow in return for an honest review.

Rainbow follows Taylor, a college student who only has time for basketball and studying in her life. She dreams of one day playing in the WNBA. But that all changes on a student union trip to Washington DC to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March. Taylor meets Melody, and this changes her whole life and world view.

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My review

The start of the story describes Taylor’s trip to Washington, DC, and her anger — two months before, Hurricane Katrina has destroyed the city of New Orleans, and the Black community were left to deal with the aftermath alone. On the bus ride there, Taylor sits next to Melody, who is friendly and outgoing, and already knows Taylor’s basketball stats off by heart.

I really enjoyed this coming out tale. The story is told from Taylor’s point of view as she struggles with her internal conflict about her sexuality. She is worried about being judged for being gay, that her family, friends and teammates will disown her. That if she goes public about her sexuality, she will be subject to cruel rumours and that it will affect her chances to join the WNBA. She also hasn’t been honest with herself — she refuses to believe that she could be gay or what that future might look like. Or even accept the possibility that maybe, things wouldn’t be as bad as she believes.

I’d always wondered what kind of girl I would date if I could. But I never acted on those yearnings; I was too afraid of being alienated for being gay. I listened to conversations some of my teammates had with each other about what people said about them, the kinds of rumours that spread once people found out they were gay. Half the time they laughed it off because of how ridiculous they were, but I was mortified at the thought of people talking about me in that way.

Throughout the story, Taylor’s concerns affect her life more and more — and ultimately the message is about acceptance and being true to yourself. While this story is only short, it has a big impact and I think it’s one that a lot of people will be able to relate to.

In addition, I really liked that the chapters are all basketball themed (Chapter One is called Pregame, Chapter Two is Second Quarter, and so on). There are also sketches and poetry at the start of each chapter which add a nice extra touch to the story.

Blurb for Rainbow

Taylor has room for exactly two things in her life: improving her performance as a college basketball player and maintaining the grades she needs to stay on the team and someday play in the WNBA. But when she meets the beautiful and confident Melony, Taylor’s whole way of life is called into question. Rainbow is a coming-of-age queer love story with a Love Jones kind of vibe. It’s the first of many queer black novellas by the author Verde Arzu.

Verde Arzu, the author of RainbowAbout the Author, Verde Arzu

Verde Arzu is a passionate, middle school special education teacher. She graduated from Fisk University, a historically black college and university (HBCU) located in Nashville, TN. There she earned a B.A in History.

Her love for teaching pushed her to go on to graduate school where she earned a Master of Science in Special Education from National University. Verde is not only a teacher but an advocate working to ensure equity for students of colour, especially those with learning disabilities.

Verde is excitedly working toward completing a post-baccalaureate certificate in writing from UC Berkeley Extension. Upon completion of the program, she plans to continue to publish novellas, short love stories, centered on realistic lesbian and queer relationships.

Verde recalls writing her first piece of fiction as a kid on the front stoop of her two-flat home on the south side of Chicago. She traces her passion for writing stories about African American queer characters from her desire to see more characters’ voices she can relate to.

A native Chicagoan, she currently resides in Northern California with her beautiful wife and two furry, four-legged children, Bob and Marley. She enjoys reading books written by African Americans—with her favourite genre being romance. She is a die heart Chicago sports fan. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis, basketball, biking, binge-watching her favourite TV shows, and of course, cuddling up with a good book!

You can find out more about Verde on her website, and on Twitter and Instagram.

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