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Flower Children: A Novel Paperback – June 3, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
The parents, Sid and Faye, are well educated and come from wealthy backgrounds. They choose to live in a house they built themselves, with unconventional plumbing, a dirt floor, and pot growing under the kitchen sink. The children are free to roam the hills and fields. Their babysitter plays cards with her naked friends and invites the children to join but "they'd rather not play." Sid and Faye separate and then there are the lovers to be dealt with as well.
The children, especially Maeve and her older sister Lu, try desperately to be conventional, in the face of some very embarrassing moments with both parents but especially their father. Their younger brothers are lightly drawn and don't become distinct characters; in fact they almost vanish from the scene in the last sections.
The entire book is told with very little penetration into the children's "inner workings." The writing is beautiful, lyrical, but it's hard to feel that you really know or understand the characters. The reader could be watching a beautiful movie with the volume turned all the way down, or in a foreign language with no subtitles. How did Faye and Sid choose this path?
...Read more ›
However, the book seems to me to try too hard to be artsy and ethereal. The point of view changes all the time---sometimes it's a "we" for all four kids, sometimes a specific kid---and this isn't really necessary for the narrative. The various boyfriends and girlfriends of the parents drift in and out, without always seeming to serve any role in the book. The children's personalities never become distinct, and their reactions to startling events never seem true to life. There are too many neighbors to keep track of, each with a tiny cameo. In general, the book is a bit of a mess---a pretty mess, an interesting mess partly, but a mess, like the father's apartment always is.
Swann's writing is big on imagery. This is certainly one of her strong points. Whether it's a girlfriend's blonde hair, the texture of mud dried on skin, or the first stirring of sexual arousal, she really knows how to write the image sensually.
She's also adept at capturing the prismatic universe of interior emotions. Especially those of the children growing up in a world that is alienating and borderless. I especially love the sequence where the mother's new boyfriend takes them around cutting down trees to block off roads that hunters are using with no thought that this will also block the kids' school bus route in the morning.
Flower Children reminded me a lot of my childhood. Not that my parents were hippies; but I think that a lot of the free-ideas of the 70's trickled into the mainstream and led to a lot of suspect child rearing, all in the name of free love, which unfortunately translated into adult selfishness. That's my take, anyway.
Now, doesn't that sound good?
Well, it isn't!
Flower Children is beautifully written, but it's simple little vignettes of the siblings at play and "road-tripping" with their father after their parents are divorced. The stories of these very likable, precocious children are rather amusing, but not enough to carry a book. I kept trudging on through, waiting for something to happen. Something exciting and extra-ordinary.
But nothing ever happened, so what's the point?
Some would say the "point" is to depict the unorthodox way hippies raised their children and to show that these kids came out good in the end. That would make sense and be acceptable if there had been some action along the way. The most action was when the father occasionally brought one of his many bimbo-like girlfriends on a trip.
This book did not portray a sense of strong moral fiber on the part of the Harvard-educated parents, but it clearly showed their rebellion against the conventional ways of their elitist, wealthy, more shallow parents.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a good fiction that reasonably portrays some of what it was to grow up in a non christian home during the sixties in the USA. Read morePublished 4 months ago by WE ONE SINGER
This sounded like an interesting book but I gave up after the first few chapters. It just rambles on and on... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Geraldine
This was the worst book that I have ever attempted to read. I thought that it would be a great look back at the 60's however it was more like reading a never ending sentence. Read morePublished 15 months ago by marysview
I was intrigued by the cover of this book. I grew up during the same era, and the picture of the children playing (in 70's attire) took me back to my childhood. Read morePublished 20 months ago by B. Youngblood
I really enjoyed this book. It shows us the perspective of these types of families from their own experience. Great read!Published 21 months ago by Katherine Olson
This book was an easy read though I felt like there was some empty blanks in structure and time linePublished 21 months ago by annkat63
a little hard to read. Very disjointed. thoughts barely put together instead of a story. would have enjoyed in story form.Published on December 10, 2013 by Paula Tintor
It was Ok. could have been better. sometimes, it was interesting but nothing that memorable. My friend borrowed and she like it.Published on November 16, 2013 by D