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THE COLONY by Nanette L. Avery


by Nanette L. Avery

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-5439-9191-8
Publisher: BookBaby

After encountering others with similar secrets, two siblings make a drastic, grim decision in this novel.

Yoshi lives with his sister, Saachi, and their mother, Henrietta. It’s not an easy existence, as Henrietta often has paper bags of “roogs” (drugs) and stays inside her room, dazed, for prolonged intervals. She also has a local reputation as a murderer due to her lethally shooting an aggressive gardener and his dog. It was unquestionably self-defense, but that hasn’t prevented a stigma shadowing the mother and her children. When Yoshi finds cryptic notes hidden in a library book, the messages direct him to a small group of individuals. They claim that Yoshi is one of them, as everyone in this gathering they call The Colony has parents who use and/or deal drugs. Regular meetings with The Colony and further concealed notes only seem to elevate Yoshi’s distrust, including of the vagrant Sikes, whom the boy is intent on helping. But even more telling is his new friends’ insistence on taking care of his “problem.” It soon becomes apparent to Yoshi and Saachi that getting rid of Henrietta may be their only option. Avery’s offbeat story is intentionally vague. For example, there’s no specific time period or setting, and the siblings sometimes converse in their own dialect. Nevertheless, the brother-sister relationship grounds the narrative; they may argue but their mutual compassion is unmistakable, even if it stems from an emotionally absent mother. Likewise, there’s a general unease, as motivations, including The Colony’s and Sikes’, aren’t immediately clear. But while the siblings’ language generates memorable slang that readers will enjoy, some inconsistent spellings make it unnecessarily confusing. (“Cabbu,” which seems to mean cash, is later “caboo”; “ledling,” which essentially means sleeping, is also “ladling.”) The events all lead to a twist ending that the author subtly hints at throughout the darkly bizarre novel.

A remarkable family tale that fully embraces its weirdness and ambiguity.