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RAINBOW BLACK by Maggie Thrash Kirkus Star


by Maggie Thrash

Pub Date: March 19th, 2024
ISBN: 9780063286870
Publisher: Harper Perennial/HarperCollins

An acclaimed author of YA fiction (Lost Soul, Be at Peace, 2018, etc.) writes her first novel for adults.  

In the summer of 1990, Lacey Bond’s life is upended when her parents are accused of committing ritual abuse at their New Hampshire day care center. She and her older sister, Éclair, do their best to take care of themselves and defend their mother and father, but Lacey ends up in a group home, from which she eventually escapes to help her best—only—friend. It might be hard to imagine how Lacey’s life could get worse from here, but it does. Perhaps the first thing to know about this novel is that anyone picking it up because of the satanic panic hook is likely to be disappointed. The fact that her parents are tried and convicted of crimes that are as preposterous as they are horrific certainly makes an impact on Lacey’s life, but it’s a small part of her story. Thrash packs so much into 400 pages that this novel shouldn’t work. There’s courtroom drama and family drama. There’s murder and mystery. There’s a romance complicated by, among other things, the threat of extradition. And holding it all together is an oddly shaped queer coming-of-age narrative. It does work, though, because of Thrash’s ability to create compellingly unique characters, starting with her protagonist. It’s not difficult to feel sympathy for young Lacey. Not only does she endure terrible tragedy at a young age, but every grownup in her life fails her in one way or another—sometimes spectacularly, sometimes ruthlessly. This is not to say that adolescent Lacey is one-dimensional and, when she becomes an adult, it’s easy to see her as the product of her experiences. Beyond this, Thrash does a terrific job of making every character both singular and nuanced. Éclair, for example, is a wonder, and the lawyer Aaron Feingold is a tragicomic masterpiece.

Thrash turns trauma, injustice, and hideous bad fortune into a story about resilience, reinvention, and love.