Busy as I may be, when I got up this morning, I felt the need to feed my blog. I will soon vent and ramble about my schedule but for now, time to smell some lovely flowers and discover a pretty book, inside and out!
I would like to thank the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Title: Sunflowers in February
Author: Phyllida Shrimpton
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Date of publication: Feb 8th 2018
Number of pages: 384
No more star ratings!
This funny yet heartbreaking teen and YA novel movingly explores what happens when Lily dies in a car accident. The trouble is, Lily is really not sure at all if she wants to ‘move on’ . . .
Lily wakes up one crisp Sunday morning on the side of the road. She has no idea how she got there. It is all very peaceful and very beautiful. It is only when the police car and then the ambulance arrive, and she sees her own body, that she realises that she is in fact dead. But what is she supposed do now? Lily has no option but to follow her body and see her family – her parents and her twin brother start falling apart. And then her twin brother Ben gives her a once-in-a-deathtime opportunity: to use his own body for a while. But will Lily give Ben his body back? She is beginning to have a rather good time . . .
Sunflowers in February. What a gorgeous and sunny title. I instantly fell in love with it. The bright cover brightened up the rainy day this book was delivered to my house, and serendipity made me choose it on another rainy day a few weeks later.
With only snippets of recollection of the blurb, I started wandering in this sunflower field with no shield. Was I ready for this emotional read? The moment the thought entered my mind, it was too late. I had met Lily.
Lily. Fifteen year-old teenager with the voice and reactions of an actual fifteen year-old girl. Not that I am around youngsters a lot these days, I don’t understand them! But one line convinced me. Instantly, I felt a connection to this pretty flower whose life has taken the biggest blow ever. I had never been popular as a teen, neither do I have a brother, a normal family, or a group of friends, but my heart reached out to her. Maybe because her own heart was not beating anymore.
Don’t be fooled by the colors or the warm title. This is not a happy story. Can I really call it a sad story? Yes. But it is also so much more than this.
It’s the first day back at school after half-term, but Ben hasn’t gone in. Instead we are all at the funeral parlour doing the expensive part of dying.
First of all, if you are a psychological stories lover, you will appreciate the depth with which some topics are discussed, such as guilt.
Secondly, his was for me the best “breather-book”. I had been stuck between personal issues, reviews piling up and making me feel guilty, and an overall tiredness, so breathing in the scent of sunflowers brought me back to a better place.
The story itself might not feel very original. A young girl dies, a family is destroyed. Except said young girl is not just a casualty. She actually is the main voice of this book. Lily, who sees her own dead body in the mud, who watches her family ID what remains of her, who can only stare at her friends and her world as the news spread. Lily, who remains a teenager after all…
Until… Ah! Not saying anything more! *the evil blogger is back* An opportunity gives Lily the chance to change things, to make things right, to hold on to life. This is the part I struggled with, as a very boring down-to-earth woman! If at first, I did not mind a bit of unrealistic glitter to accompany Lily on her journey, especially through twin-bounds, as I neared the end I couldn’t help but cringe a little. I went with it as it helped Lily come to terms with what was happening and offered many weird, uncomfortable but oh so funny moments. But then things went one step further. What had started as a very strong look at life with the witty remarks of a sharp tongue grew into an out-of-this-world look-for-the-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel lesson. I am not religious and, scary as it may be, I have no idea what happens next. I understand how people can find comfort in believing in this kind of afterlife or way of passing, but this is were my link to Lily slowly faded to become a teeny tiny thread that I let go of when I reached her final pages. The epilogue was heart-warming, though, and this is why I can say I did enjoy the story.
The heart of Sunflower in February is the path Lily must walk to find peace. Because of the spot-on writing, I could feel what it was like to struggle with your emotions as you watch people keep on living without you, the resentment, the guilt, the pain, the loss of what will never be. But the story doesn’t get sappy and depressing. It offers funny lines and peace. And love. Lots of it.
I’d been so preoccupied with growing up that I can’t remember showing her exactly how much I loved her and, too late, I so want to now.
This book reminded my why sunflowers are my favorite flowers. If you need a change of scenery, a bout of life, as dramatic and crazy as can be, and a reminder love knows no bounds, this book is for you.
You can find the book on Amazon
Phyllida Shrimpton is a full-time mother of a teenage daughter and currently lives in Essex with her husband, their rescued Newfoundland and small, badly behaved Jack Russell.
She achieved a postgraduate degree in Human Resource Management, but soon jumped ships to work with teenagers, including students with Asperger’s syndrome, on an Essex-based agricultural college farm before moving to live temporarily in the Netherlands. She is also an artist.
Sunflowers in February is her first novel.