A month before her mad run to Darcy’s place, Maddy Macarthy was in trouble for a different reason. It’s not an unusual thing to happen, but four weeks before the epic stack in front of Max, and before the whole problem that was tucked into her trackpants, Maddy was caught up in another kind of trouble.
She was sitting in a silent car, the air bristling with the fury only mothers can brew. Mum gripped the steering wheel and every now and then she turned and glared at Maddy like she was about to say something then decided not to.
Arty 15 year-old Maddy and her football-mad twin Jack are living with their grandparents while their mother does a stint in a hospital in the country. Maddy loves to push the boundaries of her art, and to provoke a reaction in those who see her work. But this time she may have gone too far. But she needs this, this public response. Because so much else seems to be topsy-turvy. Her business partner Darcy is being too weird, her brother is distancing himself, her loved art teacher is supportive but cautious. How is it possible to see some things so clearly and yet be unable to make sense of others? Her life feels as steep and uneven as the roads around her grandparents’ home.
Maddy, protagonist of The Colour of Trouble has synaesthesia, and for her that means that sounds have colour, and colours have tastes. This isn’t a real problem for her, just a flag for the reader that Maddy’s unique take on the world has a few extra shades. And shadows. For all her insight on things art, she sometimes fails to see what’s happening around her, and also to acknowledge her emotions and reactions. She is at once intuitive and obtuse. Like most teenagers.
The Colour of Trouble is a realistic novel about coming of age, beginning to establish identity and learning some of the rights and responsibilities that come with that. It’s also an amazing look into the mind of a creative teenager and what is possible. Maddy is fortunate in having many caring people around her to support and encourage her, including mother, grandparents, art mentors, teachers and her friends. It is a story about change, growing up and taking grown up responsibilities for your actions. Recommended for early- to mid-secondary readers.
The Colour of Trouble, Gerry Bobsien
Walker Books 2012 ISBN: 9781921720840
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
Available from good bookstores or online.