True Colors

True Colors

4.1 925
by Kristin Hannah

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True Colors is New York Times bestselling author Kristin Hannah's most provocative, compelling, and heart-wrenching story yet. With the luminous writing and unforgettable characters that are her trademarks, she tells the story of three sisters whose once-solid world is broken apart by jealousy, betrayal, and the kind of passion that rarely comes along

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True Colors is New York Times bestselling author Kristin Hannah's most provocative, compelling, and heart-wrenching story yet. With the luminous writing and unforgettable characters that are her trademarks, she tells the story of three sisters whose once-solid world is broken apart by jealousy, betrayal, and the kind of passion that rarely comes along.

The Grey sisters have always been close. After their mother's death, the girls banded together, becoming best friends. Their stern, disapproving father cares less about his children than about his reputation. To Henry Grey, appearances are everything, and years later, he still demands that his daughters reflect his standing in the community.

Winona, the oldest, needs her father's approval most of all. An overweight bookworm who never felt at home on the sprawling horse ranch that has been in her family for three generations, she knows that she doesn't have the qualities her father values. But as the best lawyer in town, she's determined to someday find a way to prove her worth to him.

Aurora, the middle sister, is the family peacemaker. She brokers every dispute and tries to keep them all happy, even as she hides her own secret pain.

Vivi Ann is the undisputed star of the family. A stunningly beautiful dreamer with a heart as big as the ocean in front of her house, she is adored by all who know her. Everything comes easily for Vivi Ann, until a stranger comes to town. . . .

In a matter of moments, everything will change. The Grey sisters will be pitted against one another in ways that none could have imagined. Loyalties will be tested and secrets revealed, and a terrible, shocking crime will shatter both their family and their beloved town.

With breathtaking pace and penetrating emotional insight, True Colors is an unforgettable novel about sisters, rivalry, forgiveness, redemption---and ultimately, what it means to be a family.

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Editorial Reviews

Sisterhood triumphs over sibling rivalries in this artfully turned Kristin Hannah novel. Winona, Aurora, and Vivi Ann grew up together in a small Washington State suburban town. Bonding together closer after their mother's early death, they develop differently: Winona, overweight and insecure, becomes a resourceful lawyer; Aurora is the middle sister peacemaker; and youthful, attractive Vivi Ann attracts men easily, not always to her advantage. True Colors will strike chords in anybody who is a sister or has a sister; it could be Kristin Hannah's breakthrough novel.

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True Colors

By Kristin Hannah, 1st ed.

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2009 Kristin Hannah
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-9121-6



The day Vivi Ann had been waiting for—January 25—seemed to take forever to arrive. When it finally came, she woke even earlier than usual. Long before dawn had lightened the night sky, she threw back the covers and got out of bed. In the cold darkness of her room, she dressed in insulated coveralls and a woolen cap. Grabbing a pair of worn leather work gloves, she stepped into big rubber boots and went outside.

Technically she didn't have to feed the horses. Her latest ranch hand would do it. But since she was too excited to sleep, she figured she might as well do something useful.

Without a moon to guide her, she couldn't see anything except a ghostly silvered image of her own breath, but if there was one thing Vivi Ann knew in this world, it was the lay of her father's land.

Water's Edge.

More than one hundred years ago, her great-grandfather had homesteaded this property and founded the nearby town of Oyster Shores. Other men had chosen easier, more populated areas, places with easier access, but not Abelard Grey. He had crossed the dangerous plains to get here, lost one son to an Indian raid and another to influenza, but still he'd moved West, lured by a dream to this wild, secluded corner of the Evergreen State. The land he chose, one hundred and twenty-five acres tucked between the warm blue waters of the Hood Canal and a forested hillside, was spectacularly beautiful.

She walked up the small rise toward the barn they'd built ten years ago. Beneath a high, timbered ceiling, a large riding arena was outlined by four-rail fencing; twelve box stalls flanked the east and west sides of the structure. After she opened the huge sliding door, the overhead lights came on with a sound like snapping fingers, and the horses instantly became restless, whinnying to let her know they were hungry. For the next hour, she separated flakes of hay from the bales stacked in the loafing shed, piled them into the rusted wheelbarrow, and moved down the uneven cement aisles. At the last stall, a custom-made wooden sign identified her mare by her rarely used registered name: Clementine's Blue Ribbon.

"Hey, girl," she said, unbolting the wooden door and sliding it sideways.

Clem nickered softly and moved toward her, sneaking a bite of hay from the wheelbarrow.

Vivi Ann tossed the two flakes into the iron feeding rack and closed the door behind her. While Clem ate, Vivi Ann stood beside her, stroking the big mare's silky neck.

"Are you ready for the rodeo, girl?"

The mare nuzzled her side as if in answer, almost knocking Vivi Ann off her feet.

In the years since Mom's death, Vivi Ann and Clementine had become inseparable. For a while there, when Dad had quit speaking and started drinking, and Winona and Aurora had been busy with high school, Vivi Ann had spent most of her time with this horse. Sometimes, when the grief and emptiness had been too much for Vivi Ann to handle, she'd slipped out of her bedroom and run to the barn, where she'd fall asleep in the cedar shavings at Clem's hooves. Even after Vivi Ann had gotten older and become popular, she'd still considered this mare her best friend. The deepest of her secrets had been shared only here, in the sweet-smelling confines of the last box stall on the east aisle.

She patted Clem's neck one last time and left the barn. By the time she reached the house, the sun was a smear of butterscotch-yellow light in the charcoal-gray winter sky. From this vantage point, she could see the steel-gray waters of the Canal and the jagged, snow-covered peaks of the distant mountains.

When she stepped into the shadowy farmhouse, she could hear the telltale creaking of floorboards and knew her father was up. She went into the kitchen, set three places at the table and then started breakfast. Just as she put a plate of pancakes into the oven to warm, she heard him come into the dining room. Pouring him a cup of coffee, doctoring it with sugar, she took it to him.

He took it from her without looking up from his Western Horseman magazine.

She stood there a moment, wondering what she could say that would start a conversation.

Dressed in his usual work clothes—well-worn Wrangler jeans and a plaid flannel shirt, with a saucer-sized silver belt buckle and leather gloves tucked in his waistband—he looked like he did every morning. And yet there was something different, too: a subtle collection of lines or wrinkles that aged his face.

The years since Mom's death had been unkind to him, sharpening his features and adding shadows where none belonged, both in his eyes and in the fleshy bags beneath. His spine had curved; it was the mark of a farrier, he said, the natural result of a lifetime spent hammering nails into horses' hooves, but loss had played a part in that curving of his spine, too. Vivi Ann was certain of it. The weight of an unexpected loneliness had reshaped him as surely as the hours he'd spent hunched at work. The only time he really stood tall anymore was when he was in public, and she knew how much it pained him to appear unbowed by his life.

He sat down at the table and read his magazine while Vivi Ann readied and served breakfast.

"Clem's made some awesome practice runs this month," she said, taking her place across from him. "I really think we have a chance of winning the rodeo in Texas."

"Where's the toast?"

"I made pancakes."

"Fried eggs need toast. You know that."

"Mix them in with the hash browns. We're out of bread."

Dad sighed heavily, obviously irritated. He looked pointedly at the empty place setting on the table. "You seen Travis this morning?"

Vivi Ann glanced through the window toward the barn. There was no sign of their ranch hand anywhere. No tractor out and running, no wheelbarrow by the barn door. "I fed the horses already. He's probably out fixing that fence."

"You picked another winner with that one. If you'd quit rescuin' every hurt horse between here and Yelm, we wouldn't need no help around here at all. And the truth is we can't afford it."

"Speaking of money, Dad ... I need three hundred bucks for the rodeo this week and the coffee can is empty."

He didn't respond.


"I had to use that money to pay the hay bill."

"It's gone?"

"The tax bill just came, too."

"So we're in trouble," Vivi Ann said, frowning. She'd heard it before, of course, had always known there wasn't much money, but for the first time, it really hit home. She understood suddenly why Winona was always harping about saving money for taxes. She cast an upward glance at her dad. He sat hunched forward, with his elbows on the table. Her sisters would have seen that as rude; Vivi Ann was sure she knew better. "Your back hurting you again?"

He didn't answer, didn't even acknowledge the question.

She got up, went into the kitchen, and got him some ibuprofen, setting the pills gently on the table between them.

His splayed farrier's hand closed over them.

"I'll find a way to get the money, Dad. And I'll win this week. Maybe as much as two thousand bucks. Don't you worry."

They finished the rest of the meal in silence, with him reading his magazine. When he was done, he pushed back from the table and stood up. Reaching for the sweat-stained brown felt cowboy hat that hung on a hook by the door, he said, "Make me proud."

"I will. 'Bye, Dad."

After he left, Vivi Ann sat there, feeling unsettled.

For most of her twenty-four years she'd been like a leaf on the water, just floating along, following whatever current came her way. She'd tried changing direction a few times, but every attempt (like community college) had ended quickly, with her returning to this land.

She loved it here, plain and simple. She loved being around the horses, training them, and passing her expertise on to the bright-eyed girls who idolized her riding ability. She loved that everyone in town knew who she was and respected her and her family. She even loved the weather. Lots of folks complained about the gray days that followed each other, one after another, from November to April, but she didn't mind at all. No rain, no rainbows. That was her motto, and had been since she was twelve years old, a girl standing beside a freshly dug grave, trying to make sense of an incomprehensible loss. Then, she'd told herself that life was short and having fun was what mattered.

Now, though, it was time for her to grow up. Water's Edge needed her for once, instead of the other way around. She wasn't sure exactly how to make a change. Business and planning were hardly her strong suits, but she was smarter than people gave her credit for being. All she had to do was think about it.

But first she needed to borrow three hundred dollars from one of her sisters.

She'd tell them it would be a good investment.

Winona liked running the show. Any show; every show. And not from the sidelines, either. In college, all it had taken was one constitutional law class, and she'd glimpsed her future. Now, at twenty-seven, she had her life pretty much as she wanted it. Not completely, of course (she was unmarried, not dating, childless, and struggling with her weight), but pretty much. She was far and away the most successful attorney in Oyster Shores. It was common knowledge that she was fair, opinionated, and smart. Everyone said she was a good person to have on your side. Winona valued her reputation almost as much as she did her education. Dad and Vivi Ann might worship at the altar of their land, but Winona had a broader religion. For her, it was the community that mattered and the people who lived here. It was okay that Vivi Ann was the beautiful heart of town; Winona strove to be its conscience.

She reached for the intercom on her desk and pushed the button. "The council will be here in about ten minutes, Lisa. Make sure we have enough coffee."

Her receptionist answered promptly. "Already done."

"Good." Winona turned her attention to the slim pile of paperwork in front of her. There were a couple of environmental reports, a proposed short plat map, and a real estate sale contract that she'd written up.

It could save Water's Edge.

Well, perhaps that was a bit of an exaggeration; the ranch wasn't poised on the edge of financial ruin or anything. It was more like one of those pathetic starving horses Vivi Ann kept rescuing: limping along. Every month Dad and Vivi Ann barely made enough to keep the place running, and the taxes kept going up. This secret corner of Washington State hadn't been "discovered" yet by the yuppies who turned rugged waterfront lots into gold, but it was only a matter of time. Someday soon a developer would realize that their sleepy town sat on a spectacular stretch of beach that overlooked the Swiss Alps–like Olympic Mountain Range, and when that happened, Dad would find himself sitting on one hundred and twenty-five desirable acres. The rise in taxes would force him to sell the land or lose it, and no one seemed to notice the inevitability of this future except her. It had already happened all across the state.

She jotted notes down on her yellow pad, words to use in talking to him. It was imperative that he understand how important this was, how she'd found a way to save and protect him. Equally imperative was that she be the one to solve the problem. Perhaps then, finally, her father would be proud of her.

The intercom buzzed. "They're here, Winona."

"Send them into the conference room." Winona slid the documents into a manila folder and reached for her blue blazer. Slipping into it, she noticed it had gotten tighter across the bust. Sighing, she headed down for the conference room.

Her office was housed in a large Victorian mansion on a corner lot in downtown Oyster Shores. She'd bought it four years ago and renovated it room by room. The entire downstairs was completed so far. She could hardly have people judging her public rooms and finding them lacking. Next year, she'd begin on the living quarters upstairs. She had saved up almost enough money.

In the hallway, she paused at a mirror just long enough to assess her reflection: A plump, pretty face, dark brown eyes set beneath arching black brows, full lips, the shoulders of an NFL lineman, and enough bust for three women. Her one outstanding feature—her long black hair—was pulled back from her face and held in place by a white and blue scrunchie.

Forcing a smile, she kept walking and turned into what had once been a ladies' sunroom. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows and a pair of antique French doors covered the back wall. Through the rectangular panes could be seen her winter-brown garden; and beyond that were the brick and wooden buildings along Front Street. In the center of the room was a long oak table. The members of the Oyster Shores city council sat around it, including her father, who wasn't technically a member, but was invited to every meeting nonetheless.

Winona took her usual place at the head of the table. "What can I help you with today?"

Beside her, Ken Otter, the town's dentist, smiled broadly. He always smiled broadly, saying it was free advertising. "We want to talk about what's going on at the reservation."

The reservation again. "I've told you before, it's not possible to stop them. I think—"

"But it's a casino, " Myrtle Michaelian said, her round face turning red at the very thought. "Prostitution is sure to follow. The Indians are—"

"Stop," Winona said firmly. She glanced around the table, eyeing each person for a long moment before she turned to the next. "First of all, they're Native Americans, and you don't have the legal right to stop them from building the casino. You can spend a lot of money fighting them, but you'll lose."

They argued on for a few moments, but the mention of spending money had pulled the wind from their sails. In the end, their dissent conked out like a dying engine and they rose to leave, thanking her for saving them money and helping them out.

"Dad?" she said. "Could you stay for a minute?"

"I got to be in Shelton in forty-five minutes."

"It won't take long."

He gave her a short nod, just a flick of the chin, really, and stood there, arms crossed, while the council members left. When everyone was gone, Winona went back to her place at the head of the table and sat down, opening her manila folder. As she glanced over the paperwork, she couldn't help feeling a swell of pride. This was a good plan.

"It's about Water's Edge," she said, finally looking up. She didn't bother asking him to sit down. She'd learned that lesson well: Henry Grey moved when and where he wanted. Period. Trying to influence that only made the speaker look foolish.

He grunted something. She didn't think it was a word.

"I know how tight your finances are right now, but there are a lot of things at Water's Edge that need fixing. The fences are in bad shape, the loafing shed is starting to list, and someone's going to get lost in the mud in the parking area someday if we don't get a grader in there and lay some gravel. And don't even get me started on the taxes." She pushed the short plat map toward him. "We could sell off the ten acres along the road—Bill Deacon is ready to pay you fifty-five thousand dollars for it right now—or we could short plat it into two-acre parcels and double the price. Either way we can make enough money to tide you over for years. God knows you must be tired of shoeing seven horses a day, every day." She smiled up at him. "It's perfect, isn't it? I mean, you can hardly see those acres. You'll never miss them, and—"

Her dad walked out of the room, slamming the door shut behind him.

Winona flinched at the sound. Why had she allowed herself to hope? Again. She stared at the closed door, shaking her head, wondering why a smart woman such as herself kept stepping into the same mud puddle and expecting it to be dry. She was an idiot to still want her father's approval.

"You're mentally ill," she muttered to herself. "And pathetic."

The intercom on the table buzzed loudly, shocking her out of her thoughts.

"Luke Connelly on line one, Winona."


Excerpted from True Colors by Kristin Hannah, 1st ed.. Copyright © 2009 Kristin Hannah. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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True Colors 4.1 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 925 reviews.
dhaupt More than 1 year ago
In this intensely emotional story Ms. Hannah gives us everything lovers of great literature crave, a timeless story, a great cast of characters and for you true romantics out there, everything you get out of bed in the morning for. This novel has all the bells and whistles, a family in turmoil, a love story worthy of a full box of tissues and some of the most memorable characters I've ever had the pleasure reading about.
I predict a number one on the bestseller list!
Leah-books More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was great, it was hard to put down. I was able to finish it in only 3 days.
PattyPL More than 1 year ago
A friend of my gave a copy of the book to read. I was unfamiliar with the author and it is not the sort of book I usually read. But since she highly recommended it I push it to the front of the stacks of books that I have waiting to be read. OMG! I couldn't put the book down, it was great! I suggested the book to my book club. It was almost unanimous! My fellow readers felt the same way I had. In fact three of us went out and bought "Firefly Lane" and two pickup "On Mystic Lake", also written by Kristin Hannah. The love and devotion between the characters was amazing!
BookaholicTracy More than 1 year ago
Awesome. A great weekend read with great plot & characters.
kdoumlele More than 1 year ago
This book came to me by accident from a book club because I didn't send back the form in time to refuse the selection. I called to have my money reimbursed and to return it, and decided to check it out before I went through the hassle. After the first few pages I was absolutely hooked. The ending will leave you in a puddle of tears, and looking for more of Kristin Hannah. This is one of the best books I have read in a while.
1louise1 More than 1 year ago
The age old dilemma...fighting for parental approval, that in some families never comes but others significant moments can change your life. This is a beautiful ,moving family struggle, triumphs, tears, heart ache and love. I highly reccomend!....Others I LOVED...EXPLOSION IN PARIS, FIREFLY LANE, PERFECT.
Lisa-V More than 1 year ago
My sisters and I decided to start a book club, just the three of us. I was the first to choose a book and I decided on "True Colors" by Kristin Hannah. The three sisters Winona, Aurora and Vivi Ann are perfectly brought to life in this wonderfully written story about how a family is changed by the loss of a parent and how the sisters bond together to fill that void. Their father is not a loving man and cares more for the family reputation than his daughters feelings. The sisters, like most families, are the glue that keeps the family together. They continue all the family traditions no matter how difficult and do everything to win the approval of their father, until a stranger enters the picture then everything is turned upside down. We all gave this a great review and had a wonderful time discussing the characters and the story. The first book in our book club was a hit!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book after reading Firefly Lane - I loved that book and I wish I could say the same for this one. I only got about half way through this book. The character development was very surface and stereotypical - overweight smart girl versus beautiful cheerleader type, good looking jock type falls for cheerleader type, overweight sister jealous. There wasn't much depth to the book and it seemed like the writing was rushed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ElizaT More than 1 year ago
I just finished this book and words can not even describe how amazing it was. I could not put it down, i sat reading for hours...the writing is phenomenal, the characters are so believable and the emotion in it is amazing. I recommend this book for everyone. I think this is my new favorite book of all not even kidding. Kristin Hannah did an outstanding job with this one. Its an extremely touching story that will stay in your hearts forever. I know I will be reading much more by her... (I also added 3 other books that are my favorites...two by Janet Fitch and another by Kristin Hannah)
Nutmeg-Anne More than 1 year ago
I arrived at the first page of "True Colors" directly from Hannah's previous novel..."Firefly Lane". This gal can really spin a yarn! Through her three main characters...three apparently distinctly different sisters...she manages to tackle modern day social issues that are often on the pages of many a media the reader insight into the struggles involved in day-to-day survival of these complex characters...while emphasizing the importance of well as and loyalty. An easy...thoroughly
andante More than 1 year ago
Kristin Hannah didn't fail at all. I loved her first book, and this one was just as riveting and enjoyable. I laughed, I cried, I hated to see it end, as much as I wanted to see how it ended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First book I've read by this author, can't wait to read more! Was going through some very heavy stuff with my own 2 sisters when I read this, so this book really hit close to home. While reading this story, I laughed a lot, cried a lot, and was very angry at times. An emotional read that I absolutely loved & couldn't put down! One of the best stories I've ever read.
Ejaygirl More than 1 year ago
Some have described this story as "chick-lit" but, in my opinion, it couldn't be further from that genre. It's not an easy story with simple, likable characters. You'll go back and forth about these sisters throughout the book, which I think is the strength of the writing. The beginning is sketchy about all of the characters but they become more vivid as the story unfolds. There's tragedy, resilience, romance and heartbreak but through it all, I felt like the characters were responding realistically to their personalities. I didn't always like the direction of the story but it felt authenticate. This isn't a feel-good romance but it is an intriguing story. I've never read anything by this author so I had no expectations. I highly recommend this book if you're looking for a well-written story with interesting, likable and flawed people.
Ashleigh329 More than 1 year ago
beginning starts off a little slow, but once i got into it i couldnt put it down!
Timberlake More than 1 year ago
The author, Kristin, took little time to grab your interest when writing this book. Right from the beginning, the story pulled you into the family, and into the various scenerios that took place. Kristin was able to put depth in every one of her characters....the mind pictures she created from their appearance to their facial expressions and reactions was amazing. A good summer read...and I will look at the other books she has writen to continue enjoying her writing style and completeness of each character.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my first Kristin Hannah and it was really good. It was touching and I never wanted to put the book down. It is amazing how I could relate to the story. I really loved the characters and everything about the book. I am sure i will read a lot more of Kristin.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the novel True Colors by Kristin Hannah. The plot had a lot going on and always kept me interested. There plot contained many different elements; romance, humor, family and self-realization. I felt that the main characters really grow and mature throughout the story. This is a very good read and I would reccommend it to anyone.
sweetieb More than 1 year ago
another exciting and heartfelt book by Kristin Hannah. She is prized for hitting close to home...and in a very modern, and to me - clean- way. She writes for anyone.. Im not big on a lot of language and graphics in books I read. This story about close knit friend/sister will touch you.
dak17 More than 1 year ago
The plot grabbed me from page 1 and totally held my interest from start to finish. Anyone who has sisters (or siblings) will love the interaction between the family members. If you do not have sisters, you'll be glad you didn't!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was recommended this book from a book and it took me a minute to actually get into itbut when i did my bf got so irratated with me sharing everything with him. It was an excellent book and i look forward to readin gmore from this author. If you havent read this book i highly recommend you read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great book by the author!! Just goes to show that no matter how bad things may get, family truly does matter!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first time i had heard of Hannah as an author and took the chance. i absolutely loved it! I couldnt put the book down and read it in a weekend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my favs i love how she just make you feel every emotion!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolute beauty and painful reality in words...must read.