True Colors (Hannah)

True Colors
Kristin Hannah, 2009
St. Martin's Press
544 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780312606121

Summary
The Grey sisters have always been close. After their mother’s death, the girls banded together, becoming best friends. Their stern, disapproving father cares less about his children than about his reputation. To Henry Grey, appearances are everything, and years later, he still demands that his daughters reflect his standing in the community.

Winona, the oldest, needs her father’s approval most of all. An overweight bookworm who never felt at home on the sprawling horse ranch that has been in her family for three generations, she knows that she doesn’t have the qualities her father values. But as the best lawyer in town, she’s determined to someday find a way to prove her worth to him.

Aurora, the middle sister, is the family peacemaker. She brokers every dispute and tries to keep them all happy, even as she hides her own secret pain.

Vivi Ann is the undisputed star of the family. A stunningly beautiful dreamer with a heart as big as the ocean in front of her house, she is adored by all who know her. Everything comes easily for Vivi Ann, until a stranger comes to town.

In a matter of moments, everything will change. The Grey sisters will be pitted against one another in ways that none could have imagined. Loyalties will be tested and secrets revealed, and a terrible, shocking crime will shatter both their family and their beloved town.

With breathtaking pace and penetrating emotional insight, True Colors is an unforgettable novel about sisters, rivalry, forgiveness, redemption—and ultimately, what it means to be a family. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—September, 1960
Where—Southern California, USA
Reared—Western Washington State
Education—J.D., from a school in Washington (state)
Awards—Golden Heart Award; Maggie Award; National
   Reader's Choice
Currently—lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington


I was born in September 1960 in Southern California and grew up at the beach, making sand castles and playing in the surf. When I was eight years old, my father drove us to Western Washington where we called home.

After working in a trendy advertising agency, I decided to go to law school. "But you're going to be a writer" are the prophetic words I will never forget from my mother. I was in my third-and final-year of law school and my mom was in the hospital, facing the end of her long battle with cancer. I was shocked to discover that she believed I would become a writer. For the next few months, we collaborated on the worst, most cliched historical romance ever written.

After my mom's death, I packed up all those bits and pieces of paper we'd collected and put them in a box in the back of my closet. I got married and continued practicing law.

Then I found out I was pregnant, but was on bed rest for five months. By the time I'd read every book in the house and started asking my husband for cereal boxes to read, I knew I was a goner. That's when my darling husband reminded me of the book I'd started with my mom. I pulled out the boxes of research material, dusted them off and began writing. By the time my son was born, I'd finished a first draft and found an obsession.

The rejections came, of course, and they stung for a while, but each one really just spurred me to try harder, work more. In 1990, I got "the call," and in that moment, I went from a young mother with a cooler-than-average hobby to a professional writer, and I've never looked back. In all the years between then and now, I have never lost my love of, or my enthusiasm for, telling stories. I am truly blessed to be a wife, a mother, and a writer. (From the author's website .)



Book Reviews
Deliciously romantic and often heartbreaking, this is a book you'll want to climb inside of and stay as long as possible.
People

In her 17th novel, bestseller Hannah portrays the delicate and enduring bonds of sisterhood. The story of the Grey sisters is set in a small Washington town and follows Winona, Aurora and Vivi Ann from the time of their mother's death, when they are young teens in 1979, on through adulthood, cataloguing their trials and the men who typically come bearing them, beginning with Luke, Winona's high school best friend and secret crush. But when he falls in love with Vivi Ann, who later cheats on him with farmhand Dallas, it leads a jealous Winona to betray her sister. Vivi Ann and Dallas get married, have a baby and run the Grey family farm, but Dallas is eventually arrested for murder, and lawyer Winona refuses to take his case, seemingly killing her relationship with Vivi Ann. Dallas is convicted and things look bleak for Vivi Ann and her son, but Winona's late-breaking friendship with her nephew paves the way for the happy ending. Though Hannah boldly embraces over-the-top drama, she really knows what women—her characters and her audience—want.
Publishers Weekly


As Hannah explores the deep, emotional connection between sisters, she creates a beautiful and captivating story of love and rivalry, family and community, that readers will happily devour.
Booklist


Teenage sisters Winona, Aurora, and Vivi Ann are shattered when their mother dies, but what comes close to destroying their relationship is the reaction of their father, a hard man who dotes on his youngest daughter, Vivi Ann, disparages Winona, the eldest, and ignores Aurora, who tries hard to keep peace in the family. Flash-forward 13 years, and Winona is still desperate for her father's approval and increasingly jealous of Vivi Ann. When Luke Connelly, the man Winona has always loved, begins dating an oblivious Vivi Ann, events are set in motion that will hurt everyone involved and come close to destroying one sister's life. It is difficult to care for the self-righteous Winona, the novel's central character, but Hannah, a former romance writer (Once in Every Life) and prolific novelist (Firefly Lane), does a lovely job of handling the relationship between Vivi Ann and her husband. An engrossing, fast-paced story that will appeal to readers of Barbara Delinsky and fans of women's fiction.
Library Journal



Discussion Questions
1. In the novel’s opening scene, Henry pits one daughter against the other by simply handing one a lead rope. Winona realizes the impact of his action and knows that from then on, something in their family is changed. Does her realization change the outcome or solidify it? How does this scene reflect the central conflict in the novel? How do Henry’s choices set in motion the difficulties that lie ahead?

2. The epigraph at the start of the novel is about passion. Why do you think the author chose this quote? How does passion, in all its many forms, lie at the very heart of True Colors?

3. Winona, Aurora, and Vivi Ann have similar and idealized perceptions of their mother. How has her absence affected them, separately and collectively? Conversely, each sister has a radically different perception of Henry. Who is the real Henry? Which sister has the most accurate understanding of who he is? Is Henry’s antipathy toward his daughters subject to interpretation or is he as cold and uncaring as he appears?

4. There is obviously a symbiotic relationship between person and place in this novel. What part does the small town setting play in the novel? Could this story have taken place in a big city? What would have played out differently, in your opinion? What would have remained the same? How does the setting reflect the differences between Vivi Ann and Winona? Certainly it appears at first glance that Vivi Ann is more rooted at Water’s Edge and in Oyster Shores than Winona. Is this really true?

5. The Grey sisters would have said that they were happy before Dallas came to town. Is that true? Or was Winona right at fifteen when she observed that “from then on, jealousy had become an undercurrent, swirling beneath their lives”? Was Dallas actually the cause of their troubles? Was Luke? Or was the disintegration of the family inevitable? Who is most to blame for the bad things that happen to the Grey family?

6. How do Winona’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities play into the story? How do her strengths? Do you see her as a likeable character? A good sister?

7. How about Vivi Ann? In what way is she really the architect of her own life? How do her strengths and weaknesses allow for all of the good and bad things in the novel to happen? How would this story have been changed by honesty between the sisters from the beginning?

8. There are several moments in the story when Winona makes difficult choices. Was she right to tell Luke about Vivi Ann’s affair?  Should she have represented Dallas at his first trial? Did she deny the case for personal or professional reasons?

9. Noah becomes the first true catalyst for change in the Grey family. Like Vivi Ann, Aurora, and Winona, he has grown up in the shadow of loss. He is a fatherless boy; they are motherless girls. How has Vivi Ann’s parenting hurt Noah and set him on his self destructive path? Is Vivi Ann’s downfall understandable? Regrettable? Unacceptable? If she had been your sister, what would you have done to help her deal with Dallas’s imprisonment?

10. Do you understand Dallas? Or did he remain enigmatic throughout the story? Did your belief in his guilt or innocence change throughout the course of the novel? How much did he contribute to his own legal problems? How did Vivi Ann contribute to them? When did he fall in love with Vivi Ann, and why?

11. Prejudice is an important component of the story. In small, close-knit communities like Oyster Shores, it can often be difficult to be perceived as an outsider. How much of Dallas’s arrest depends upon prejudice? Would he have been arrested as quickly if he’d been “one of them?” What if he had been white? How much did his own bad reputation in town work against him?

12. Eyewitness testimony is often unreliable. This is especially true for minorities and people of color. Why do you think this is? What should we, as a society, do about it? Was Myrtle mistaken in her testimony? Did she lie? Did she simply see what she expected to see?

13. Was Vivi Ann wrong to give up on Dallas? Was Dallas right to ask it of her?

14. Discuss Henry. Does he change over the course of the story? Does he love his daughters? How did the loss of his wife contribute to the father he has become? Would he change if he could?

15. Think about the future. How is the Grey family changed by all that they have endured? Where do they go from here? Do Vivi, Noah, and Dallas stay at Water’s Edge? What about Winona? How has she been changed by the journey she has undertaken? Is she still jealous of her sister? Desperate for her father’s love? Will she stay in Oyster Shores? Should she? Will she and Luke make a future together? And what about Noah? For most of his life he’s been able to blame his bad behavior on someone else. What will his life be like now that his father is home?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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