“They Come in All Colors: A Novel” by Malcolm Hansen follows the coming-of-age of Huey Fairchild, biracial child who is reconciling the events of his childhood in the deep south with his current experiences at an affluent preparatory academy in New York.
As a child, Huey was afforded the privilege of other white children in the town of Akersberg, Georgia; that was until a bus carrying dozens of peaceful protesters came into town and sent the town into an uproar. The ensuing increase of racial tensions left Huey grappling with what it truly meant to be only half white in a time of segregation.
Malcolm Hansen progresses the story with intricate, reflective revelations and emotions that gradually allow the reader to understand just how much Huey’s childhood innocence is allowing him to overlook. The writing is sharp. The language in some of the dialogue is swift, upsetting, and most importantly, thought-provoking.
The novel explores heavy themes of racism, self discovery, self loathing, dealing with anger, betrayal, resentment and lastly, acceptance. Acceptance that he and his mother will never fit into any box 100 percent. Acceptance that his father was not as great as he remembered. Acceptance that society was organized the way it was the 50’s and 60’s. And acceptance that they come in all colors.
The book does a great job of highlighting the issues that mixed race people faced in a society where black people were ostracized and white people were the golden standard. Far too often are the experiences of those who didn’t identify as simply black or white overlooked, especially in Jim Crow era America. In an increasingly globalized society where an increasing number of people are no longer identifying as a single ethnicity, this book opens up the floor to countless conversations that need to be had.
Overall, I would give this book a 9/10. Being told in first person allows the reader to get into the mind of a confused and frustrated boy whose childhood is starting to come to an end in some of the most upsetting and traumatizing ways. The book switches between the trials of his childhood spent in Georgia and the adjustments that he’s making in New York, which is similar to the deep south for people of color in many of the same ways.
It’s not a book that I would recommend as a light-hearted read, but it is a piece that is worth a deeper inspection if you decide to give it your time.
Photo credit: Simon and Schuster Publishing