Wednesday, September 20, 2017

She's Like a Rainbow by Eileen Colucci - Book Tour + Giveaway

She's Like a Rainbow
by Eileen Colucci


GENRE: Young Adult Magical Realism



“The summer I turned ten, my life took a fairy tale turn.”

So begins Reema Ben Ghazi’s tale set in Morocco. Reema awakes one morning to find her skin has changed from whipped cream to dark chocolate. From then on, every few years she undergoes another metamorphosis, her color changing successively to red, yellow and ultimately brown. What is the cause of this strange condition and is there a cure? Does the legend of the White Buffalo have anything to do with it?  As Reema struggles to find answers to these questions, she confronts the reactions of the people around her, including her strict and unsympathetic mother, Lalla Jamila; her timid younger sister, Zakia; and her two best friends, Batoul and Khalil. At the same time, she must deal with the trials of adolescence even as her friendship with Khalil turns to first love. One day, in her search for answers, Reema discovers a shocking secret – she may have been adopted at birth. As a result, Reema embarks on a quest to find her birth mother that takes her from twentieth-century Rabat to post-9/11 New York.

Reema’s humanity shines through her story, reminding us of all we have in common regardless of our particular cultural heritage. SHE’S LIKE A RAINBOW, which will appeal to teens as well as adults, raises intriguing questions about identity and ethnicity.


Author’s Mission Statement: Author's Note: It is my hope that SHE’S LIKE A RAINBOW will promote peace and understanding among people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. My aim is to stimulate discussion on everything we have in common as human beings regardless of our particular heritage. We are all connected.



We were not very strict Muslims. We did not pray five times a day, nor did we go to Mosque every Friday (though we did attend on all the Aids or Holy Days, to celebrate the Sacrifice of Abraham, the end of Ramadan, and such). Zakia and I emulated Mother and did not cover our heads. As she got older, Mother took to praying and began to wear a head scarf whenever she went out, removing it at home, leaving it on in her shop. She did not insist that we begin wearing one however. Since Zakia and I went to the French Mission schools, we did not receive religious instruction as part of the regular curriculum like our cousins who went to Moroccan schools did. To fill this gap, Mother hired a tutor who came once a week to teach us the Koran and to supplement the mediocre Arabic lessons provided at school.

Mother had several copies of the Koran. There was one, wrapped in gift paper that she kept in her room. I had come upon the sealed package one day when I was about seven and, not knowing what was inside, I had torn the golden wrapping to have a peek. Afterward, when I’d asked Mother why she kept an old Koran that was falling apart, she had scolded me severely and boxed my ears. She told me that Father had brought the holy book back from the Haj and had carefully wrapped it in order to preserve it.

Needless to say, we did not use this book for our lessons. Instead, Haj Brahim (he was addressed as “Haj” because he, like Father, had made the pilgrimage to Mecca) would take down the large, heavy Koran from the top shelf in the book case and try to help us understand the verses. When this failed, he would settle for having us memorize them.

Not content to just recite the words without understanding their meaning, I had convinced Mother to buy a version that had the Arabic on the left side with the French translation on the right. This was the book that I used for my private prayers and to search for an explanation for my multiple transformations.

I was not having much success however and decided I must talk to Haj Brahim about it. I didn’t want to ask him in front of Zakia, so I would have to choose my moment carefully.

One afternoon, Haj Brahim showed up a little early for our lesson. Mother showed him into the sitting room and asked Naima to make some tea. Zakia was having a shower because she had participated in a race at school that day (that she’d lost, of course). Seizing the opportunity, I slipped into the room and gently closed the door.

Haj Brahim was a portly man, in his sixties and decidedly bald. He was an old acquaintance of Father’s who had helped Mother settle the inheritance after Father died. Mother was in a predicament as a widow with only daughters. In the absence of a male heir, Father’s three brothers had tried to wrest as much as they could, but Haj, who was an expert in Islamic law and connected to one of the Mosques in Rabat, had made sure that Mother’s rights, however limited, were protected. (Those rights would have been even more limited had Father not already taken several precautions while still alive, such as putting many of the deeds and wealth in Mother’s name.)

I cleared my throat and Haj, who sat leaning back on the sofa with his hands folded in his lap, looked over at me and smiled. As always, he wore a little white skull cap that he only removed now. I began hesitatingly to describe my problem. Haj must have been aware of my transformations as he’d been giving us lessons since I was nine and still “Reema, The Palest One of All.” He had never mentioned anything about my “condition” though. He listened carefully as I timidly described my tormenters at school, mother’s failure to sympathize, and my personal doubts as to God’s role in all this. I stopped abruptly when Naima brought the tea and placed the tray in front of me.

Using the knitted mitt, I grasped the silver teapot and poured some tea into one of the crystal glasses. Then, I poured the tea back in the pot and served us both. I glanced at the clock. Zakia would be coming in any minute and my chance would be lost. Haj nodded subtly, as if he understood my urgency, and went to get the Koran from the shelf. He put on his reading glasses, then took them off and wiped them with the cloth napkin that Naima had given him.

He paused before putting them on again and recited to me, “’Endure with patience, for your endurance is not without the help of God.’ God presents us all with different challenges, Reema. You must have patience and His wisdom will be revealed to you. All in good time.”

“But, why Haj? Why is God doing this? Making my skin change color all the time like I’m some kind of freak. What have I done wrong?”

Without answering, he opened the book to the very end and read me a verse:
As time passes,
Everyone suffers loss
Except those who believe
and do good deeds and urge one another to be true
and to bear with courage the trials that befall them.

I could hear Zakia coming down the stairs. I quickly noted the page so that I could go back to it later.

Haj closed the book and said softly to me, “You are young, Reema. What seems like a great ‘trial’ today may not seem so terrible later on. You are a good girl. Just be brave – and patient.”

He patted me lightly on my hand. Somehow, it did not feel patronizing or dismissive. The butterfly touch of his fingers gave me hope.


Guest Post

Changing the World, Word by Word

Most of us start out as idealists. As adolescents and young adults, we hold tight to our shared mantra, “We can change the world.” But somewhere along the way to becoming grown-ups, we lose our voice and let go of our convictions, our commitment. Disillusioned by doubt and cynicism, our new refrain becomes, “One person really can’t make a difference.”

For me (and I imagine for many women), the reason for abandoning my commitment to idealism was simply that it was replaced by other, “real-life” commitments: to various jobs; to being a good partner; to raising a family. All worthy causes in their own right, but all-consuming and overwhelming to the extent that there remains no room for – dare I say it? – dreaming. Years later, if we are lucky, we may get a second chance. My chance at rebirth culminated in the publication of my first novel a month before I turned fifty-four.

Growing up, I thought I would join the Peace Corps or become a civil rights lawyer. I marched against the Vietnam War, wrote poetry, newspaper articles, and short stories, and kept a journal. Gradually, I lost my voice though. After college, I became a language teacher, a different kind of advocate. Through teaching, I touched lives both young and old and was truly fulfilled for a while. Then I traded the long, rewarding hours with my students for a job that left me time to care for my family. While translating can also be an illuminating career, it is the opposite of teaching. One works alone, preferably in complete silence, and retreats into a world where words are lord and master. Not unlike writing, except the words are someone else’s, not our own.

It was a teacher who lifted me out of my solitary confinement and gave me back my voice. At age forty-three, I returned to the classroom, this time as a student in a Masters of Education Degree program. The very first class was a Writer’s Workshop with a magical professor.  From her bag of tricks, I drew inspiration and began writing again. For her class, I wrote a short story about the bond between mother and son. When the story was subsequently published in a magazine, I gained confidence and wrote on.

A few years later, I answered an ad from Fodor’s in a local newsletter. The travel guide was looking for writers for its “First Edition” on Morocco. It seemed serendipitous. I had been living in Morocco for about twenty years by then with my husband, a Moroccan architect, and our two sons. I had raised my multicultural family here and for a long time wanted to share my experiences in this open and tolerant Moslem society. I submitted some of my writing and corresponded with the editor. However, I could not take time off from my translator job to go trekking around the country, rating hotels and restaurants, nor could I abandon my older son who was in his senior year of high school. The editor still sought my contribution and suggested I write an essay on Moroccan religion (Islam) and its resonance in the culture. When I finally held a copy of the published guide in my hand, with my essay and byline, it was truly a thrilling moment; not only to see my name and words in print, but also to have fulfilled my wish of sharing my connections to this country.

I decided I wanted to share more. I would write another article, this time more personal, about multicultural, interfaith couples. I designed a questionnaire and distributed it to friends in Morocco and the United States. My research provided great feedback and led to many enlightening discussions. But, as I delved into my own history and sought to treat the subject in an authentic voice, a story emerged and my article turned into my first novel, THE STRINGS OF THE LUTE.

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, and in view of the current social and political climate, I believe there is a need for my stories, my perspective, now more than ever. It is my hope that SHE’S LIKE A RAINBOW will promote peace and understanding among people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

I believe writing is an optimistic act. Even when describing loss and mourning, the writer is reaching out to others, be it in some therapeutic, cathartic sense or just in response to a basic, human need to share, to connect. When I hear from readers - some of whom live on another continent, on the other side of an ocean – who tell me that I have touched on some very personal story of their own, I know that, thanks to writing, the idealist in me has been reborn.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

A native New Yorker, Eileen Colucci has been living in Rabat with her Moroccan husband for the past thirty-plus years. She is a former teacher and recently retired after twenty-eight years as a translator with the U.S. Embassy, Rabat. Her articles and short stories have appeared in various publications and ezines including Fodor's Morocco, Parents' Press, The New Dominion and Expat Women. SHE'S LIKE A RAINBOW, which was recently published, is her second novel.

Colucci holds a BA in French and English from the University at Albany and an MA in Education from Framingham State University.

When not writing, Colucci enjoys practicing yoga, taking long walks and playing with her chocolate Labrador Retriever, Phoebo. Now that she and her husband have four grandchildren, they spend as much time as possible in Virginia with their two sons and their families.



Buy links:


It is my hope that SHE’S LIKE A RAINBOW will promote peace and understanding among people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. My aim is to stimulate discussion on everything we have in common as human beings regardless of our particular heritage. We are all connected.


Eileen Colucci will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


blog header Goddess Fish w url copy.jpg


  1. Thank you for the excerpt and giveaway. I appreciate it!

    1. Thanks for reading, James! Hope you enjoy the book.

  2. Thanks so much for hosting me, Jasmine! I really appreciate your support.

  3. congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks for your interest, Bridgett. I hope you enjoy it!

  5. What book would you like to see a sequel to? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

    1. Hi, Joseph! I would like to read a sequel to Maeve Binchy's book, A Week in Winter. I loved that book. There are so many great characters who we meet and I'd like to see where their lives lead. However, a sequel is not possible because sadly Maeve Binchy passed away in 2012. She was a great and prolific writer and is missed by all her fans.


Please try not to spam posts with the same comments over and over again. Authors like seeing thoughtful comments about their books, not the same old, "I like the cover" or "sounds good" comments. While that is nice, putting some real thought and effort in is appreciated. Thank you.