THE YELLOW ROOM BLOG TOUR
TITLE: THE YELLOW ROOM
AUTHOR: SHELAN RODGER
Welcome to my stop on #TheYellowRoom #BlogTour. I just want to say a very big Thankyou to Emily Glenister for inviting me to take part and for sending me my beautiful paperback copy.A huge Thankyou to the author, Shelan herself for her contribution to this blog post with a very moving piece where she shares a harrowing and very personal story. The piece she has written is called Secrets are like scars. Make sure you follow the # and the tour poster and check out the contributions from some amazing book bloggers who have also taken part.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Shelan Rodger has lived a patchwork of different cultures and landscapes. Born in Nigeria, she grew up among an aboriginal community on an island north of Australia, and moved to England aged eleven. After graduating from Oxford, she travelled to Argentina, England and then Kenya. She now lives in Andalucia, Spain. Her professional career has revolved around international education and learning and development.
Haunted by a tragic childhood accident, Chala’s whole life has been moulded by guilt and secrets. After the death of the stepfather she adored, Chala is thrown into turmoil once again. Volunteering in Kenya seems to offer an escape, and a way of re-evaluating her adult relationships, although violence and hardship simmer alongside its richness and beauty. The secrets of the Yellow Room are still with her and she can’t run away forever…
Secrets are like scars
Yellow Room. Yellow is the colour of the third chakra, associated with our sense of self-worth, the place where guilt and secrets dwell. Why are we so fascinated by secrets? Why do we have secrets? The phrase ‘skeleton in the closet’ was first used in the early 1800s – what a wonderfully vivid image that still is! Whether they are born of fear or shame, denial or the urge to avoid hurting another, so often secrets create pain and guilt. We pay a price for the things we keep bottled inside us, and sometimes the bottle bursts. Secrets are often bound up with relationships and how we define their boundaries. How much should you share with your partner? What belongs to you and you alone? Secrets protect people – sometimes the owner of the secret, sometimes an innocent who would otherwise become a victim. So in theory, they can be harmless…can’t they? They are often connected to our sense of who we are and how we are seen by the world. In the widest sense of the word, they can be about the things we bury or hide from ourselves. Secrets are a clue to our sense of personal identity if we listen to them.
With Yellow Room I wanted to explore the power of secrets to run our lives. I wanted to delve into the grey areas in relationships. The urge to protect someone you love from the truth. And – incredibly – it only dawned on me when I first thought about this blog post that the reason for this is probably because of what happened to me as a child. I can share this now because the person I wanted to protect is buried in the African bush, in – ironically – a place called Secret Valley. My secret: when I was 9 years old, I was sexually abused by a man who was supposed to be a friend of the family. My reasoning for not sharing this was very simple. ‘If my father knows, he will kill the man who did it and then my father will be sent to prison.’ So I kept it buried deep inside my 9-year old little body. For years. Now, as an adult, I can look back and understand the toll that took. As the novelist Jennifer Lee Carrell wrote, ‘A secret is a kind of promise…it can also be a prison.’ I saved my father from prison but I created my own…and when I finally shared what had happened with my mother, it was a huge relief.
The personal story I’ve just told you is very specific but I believe we all live with different kinds of secrets inside us. If we look deep into our own hearts, we can feel their presence. Perhaps they are specific, perhaps vague and undefined. Should we attempt to articulate them, at least to ourselves, or are they best left alone?
Secrets are like scars over a wound that never quite disappears…I hope you enjoy the secrets of Yellow Room.
The first thing that really struck me about Shelan Rodgers writing style was just how beautiful it was, haunting, poignant. Eloquent, evocative language with an ability to strike a chord with your emotions. Shelan has an uncanny ability to observe and understand life, people, emotions and the things that have gone unsaid. She understands people and how we work, but she also has the intelligence and the insight to convey this through her words, causing her readers to question, explore and empathise.
The opening pages of the book are incredibly powerful, emotionally raw and brutal.It begins with a devastating, heartbreaking event that paved the way for the unfolding story.
The Yellow Room is the story of Chala and is a very moving and emotional one. We embark on a psychological journey with her as we watch her struggle to overcome the effects that event has had on her life. An event so damaging, so unimaginably awful that it affects her deeply on every level. It demonstrates how a traumatic childhood event can shape that persons destiny and change the course of their life forever. It also demonstrates what affect telling a half truth can have, of false remembering and the keeping of secrets.
This emotive book makes us ask powerful and far reaching questions that involve the subjects of blame and culpability and I promise will haunt you long after you have turned the last page.
This books is in a class of it’s own and the only book I can ‘compare’ it’s harrowing beauty to is ‘ Seas of snow’ by Kerensa Jennings.
I adored the special relationship Chala shared with her step father Phillip and felt her grief when he dies, he has supported her throughout life and so for her the loss is huge. His death is the catalyst that forces her to embark on a journey of self discovery, it forces her to question everything including her marriage and she decides to follow in the footsteps of her biological parents and travel to Kenya. As with everything we learn you can’t escape your past, the questions and the pain will follow you no matter what your geographical location ( although the distance eases hers slightly) but she hopes it will allow her the physical distance for her to gain some clarity and to find out who she really is and make peace with her past. The depictions of unrest and instability in Kenya following the elections were incredibly well portrayed. A sense of tension and unease and the sense of threat hanging in the air was made tangible and I really felt I was there experiencing it for myself.
One of the most incredible books I’ve ever read,it had a huge impact on me.
I urge you to read this incredibly smart, exquisitely written story. It’s life changing.