This is a truly remarkable book. One of, if not the most devastating and yet uplifting book I have ever read. I truly can’t believe it’s a debut novel.
Rainbow Milk is a beautiful novel following 19-year old ex Jehovah’s Witness Jesse McCarthy who has moved to London for a fresh start and to allow himself to be openly gay. After stumbling upon it, Jesse turns to sex work to pay his way and encounters his own battle with his faith, his masculinity and his family. But wheeeew it is so much more than that. A stunning (and steamy!) commentary on race, sex, class and everything you could want from a book.
At the beginning of the book we also get the story of Norman Alonso, a Jamaican immigrant to Birmingham in the 1950s who came to Britain sold on the dream of a better life, but struggles due to stringent racism and loss of sight. After finishing the book I definitely appreciate Norman’s story a lot more to set the scene and the tone of the book, but really the beauty of Rainbow Milk is how fantastically Jesse’s story is told, and how realistically his struggles are portrayed.
I read basically the whole second half of the book in one sitting and could’ve read at least 1000 pages more. This book will truly stay with me forever. A stunning commentary on how the world has changed, and yet all the work we still have left to do. There is also a Spotify playlist for the book as there is a heavy focus on music and how it accompanies Jesse’s path which is epic and I totally recommend checking out while reading to give you that extra bit of context. A delight.
Review By: Kate Jenkinson