Thursday, 21 May 2015

Yellow Room by Shelan Rodger

Haunted by a tragic accident from when she was young, Chala's whole life has been moulded by guilt and secrets. 
After the death of her stepfather, who took his own secrets to the grave, Chala re-evaluates her life and volunteers at a Kenyan orphanage. 
There, she gets caught in the turmoil of the country and takes action to help those suffering. 
Chala must eventually return home where she is forced to reveal a truth that may ruin her future, making her realise that maybe some words should be left unsaid ...

Yellow Room is published in paperback by Cutting Edge Press on 18 June 2015 and is Shelan Rodger's second novel.  I reviewed her first book; Twin Truths, on Random Things in May last year

The opening chapter of Yellow Room left me breathless. It is shocking and unexpected and underpins the whole of Shelan Rodger's immaculately written story of dark family secrets and how they can shape a future.

Chala's whole life has been overshadowed by the tragic incident of the first chapter of this story. What happened in the yellow room has haunted her dreams for years and years, she had never been able to escape it, even since she met and married Paul.

When Philip, Chala's beloved stepfather suddenly dies, she feels compelled to visit Kenya. To go back to the lake where she spent happy times with Philip, the lake that she was named after, and the lake that her long-dead mother loved.

Chala becomes embroiled in the problems of the Kenyan people, concentrating more on them than on her own failing relationship with her husband Paul. Volunteering in an orphanage exposes her to more secrets. Secrets kept hidden by the young boys who live there, but whose lives, like Chala's will be affected by what happens to them as children.

Shelan Rodger's writing has a haunting quality, her words flow effortlessly, her story is formed perfectly. Her characters are true to life, they are flawed, at times they are quite horrible, and it is that that makes them human, and real.

Chala struggles with her inner feelings about herself and about those who are closest to her. As the story evolves she discovers that things that she has believed for all of her life and that she has allowed to mould her may not have been what they seemed. She discovers that the people she loved and respected may not have deserved that commitment. She feels shattered, she feels as though she must do something and going to Kenya changes her whole perception of herself, and of others.

The author's depiction of life in Kenya during the turbulent times after the election of 2007 are shockingly realistic; the tensions and horror of what happened are stunningly portrayed.

The real beauty of Shelan Rodger's writing is her ability to connect with the reader so well, Yellow Room is gloriously detailed, beautifully written and extremely memorable.

My thanks, as always to the team at Cutting Edge Press who sent my copy for review.

Shelan's life is a patchwork of different cultures. 

Born in Nigeria, she grew up among the Tiwi, an aboriginal community in Australia, and moved to England at the age of eleven.

After graduating in Modern Languages from Oxford, she travelled to Argentina, where she spent nine years teaching and setting up a language school. 

Another chapter in England was followed by six years in Kenya, where she got involved in learning and development, with an emphasis on anti-discrimination. 

She now lives in Spain, working in international education - and writing.

For more information about Shelan Rodger, visit her website

Follow her on Twitter @ShelanRodger     Find her on Facebook

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