Review: The Color of Heaven by Kim Hwa

Review by Ellen Lewis

How painful is waiting for someone you love? The anguish of waiting is well-known to 51F9VUkTXnLthe two female protagonists in The Color of Heaven. This is the final book in the Color Trilogy written by Kim Hwa. This Korean graphic novel is a love story that reveals the struggle of longing for loved ones, and the tender relationship of mother and daughter. Ehwa is seen looking to the direction of the sea, waiting for the return of her fiancé. Her mother is found staring at the entry of the village, waiting for her roaming love, a traveling artist. This book explores the pain of waiting and the joy of being reunited when both men return home in the end with its emotionally full illustrations that carry the story along.

The poetic language matches the easily paced sequences that include stunning nature scenes. For example, Ehwa whispered, “Butterflies fly away, and all someone like me can do is stare at the sky and silently wait for my love’s return”, when she dearly missed her fiancé (61). The gentle expressions revealed through the character’s faces in the illustrations bring to life the brilliant emotions that they feel from heartbreak to joy. This book used the panel transitions by moving from different aspects in a scene to set the mood, such as images of flowers and full page spreads of outside views. The text can be found as dialogue between characters, and also as explaining the thoughts that run through a person’s head as they contemplate their life, such as when the mother struggles with having to let her only daughter go. This book wants the reader to understand the beauty in this connection which I think it achieves. The inner thoughts and struggles of the characters are revealed through the text in this book which allows the reader to fully understand things such as why a mother might act a certain way in hopes of teaching her daughter a life-long lesson.

The Color of Heaven
Kim Hwa
First Second, 2003
320 pagees

Ellen pursuing a degree in biomedical engineering and enjoys reading.

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