The Aura of Love by Kathy J. Marsh
Score: 4/5-A Page Turner!
A magazine publishes a story about other beings, non-humans, living among us. Their home is a carefully veiled island off the shores of North Carolina. They look like African-Americans so they have the option of working "off-island" and not being detected as alien. The magazine story claims to be fiction but every bit of the information there is true . The journalist who wrote the story about Auralites has been receiving mental transmissions from someone on The Island in the form of what seem to be dreams. He can barely bring himself to think about anything else; he craves the next dream and more information.
On the Island, Auralites are going about their everyday business with an absolute priority of actively preventing the humans from learning of their existence. European colonization forced them off the mainland; today and yesterday, the Auralites fear for their survival. Their society is racially stratified much like American society and for many of the same reasons: given the opportunity, greed led people with blue auras to oppress people with purple auras.
Several generations later, purple Auralites are no longer enslaved but strongly distrust blue Auralites. Blue Auralites are still handing down to their children lies and misconceptions about purple Auralites. Remy Renee is a clothing designer in Charlotte, North Carolina and she is a purple Auralite. Her body glows purple. She meets Jace Williams, a famous and popular author, in a bookstore. These two strangers really enjoy each other's company. Jace would, of course, like to see her again. Remy feels drawn to the handsome gentleman but can't imagine dating a Blue Guy. What would her family say? Already, in the bookstore, people are staring her down. Remy runs away but Jace isn't going to be put off easily.
His very romantic pursuit and the romance that Remy refuses to let happen make for a lot of fun in The Aura of Love. As in real life, love and lovers have a hard time of it in the face of society's prejudices, economic disparities, and family issues.
While Americans may not jump at the next opportunity to read a book about oppression dynamics, and understandably because we are, all, living out those dynamics, fiction comes to our aid. The Aura of Love is a wonderful story that illustrates racial hatred and gender issues. If we tried to explain how oppression dynamics work we would be launching hundreds of lectures with no guarantee that any audience would be better informed at the end. But if we show, not tell, the ends and outs of relationships within a social context, if we show the impact of societal dictates on the integrity of the family, if we give people an experience from many different sides of how fragile a thing love is when the social environment is hostile instead of supportive, then there is a better chance that our readers will understand because it is their hearts that heard the message.
African-American culture(s) is alive and lively in this book. Family strength is admirably portrayed, for instance. All readers will appreciate how the moms, the dads, the adult children in this story rally to overcome an outside threat. Support systems among women are an important element in the story. The men are seen as strongly family-oriented. It was nice to see emotional support among the men, as well.
The main romance is slow and graceful. We see the heroine's inner conflict which largely has to do with letting social prejudices rule her behavior versus refusing to deny herself personal happiness. The hero, Jace, shows tremendous personal integrity and "he is fine," too. There are lots of real people situations and real situational laughs in The Aura of Love.