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Sunflowers [Kindle Edition]

Melodie Starkey
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $11.95
Kindle Price: $3.99
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Book Description

There's nothing like a knock on the door at 3:00 a.m. to change your life forever. Gus Moore discovers how true this is when his ex-girlfriend blows in on an icy January night just long enough to dump "his problem" on the couch. From indolent single slob to competent single parent, Gus's metamorphosis over the next six years is astonishing.
All is going swimmingly for Gus and his son, Sam, until two women complicate their lives: Sarah, with whom Gus has an unsatisfactory friends-with-benefits relationship, and Maureen, his son's bipolar mother, who has decided she wants back into her child's life. Maureen's illness is a subtextual presence that eventually steers the course of the novel.
Sunflowers, which takes its name from the Van Gogh studies of the same, will appeal to a wide spectrum of contemporary fiction readers. Refreshingly, Gus does not have the stereotypical Mr. Mom awkwardness of being a single parent (although he does "outsource the Jesus stuff" to the mother across the street), and there is no predictable "happy couple works it out" ending.

Sunflowers is the author's second book. Her young adult novel, View from the Closet Doorway, won the 2008 SouthWest Writers Conference award in its genre, and she received a grant from the Illinois Arts Council for another novel in progress. Her short story, Stars, won the South Carolina Fiction Writers award and was later included in an anthology of Southern writers. She has also published multiple stories in literary magazines.


Editorial Reviews

Review

In Sunflowers, Melodie Starkey has written a story that brings her characters to life, with all the challenges that life offers. Single male parenthood, tangled and negative family relationships, lost and then realized motherhood ... each character's demons and delights are very well cultivated in this poignant novel. Issues addressed through the story line are right to life, abandonment, parental rights, bipolar disorder, and economic disparity. The author deals with mental illness and its effects on individuals and families with empathy, knowledge, and depth. The children in the story are not just miniature adults, but true children, with their own set of emotions and perceptions. This book held my attention for a full day, as I could not put it down and needed to read to the end once started. I would highly recommend this book for readers interested in the many choices faced by ambivalent expectant parents and families facing mental illness.  --Terry Palardy, Author Multiple Sclerosis,an Enigma

About the Author

Melodie Starkey has been writing fiction since childhood, but unfortunately took thirty years to learn how to type. She received her BA in English from the University of California, Davis. Her short work has appeared in several literary magazines and an anthology of Southern writers titled Inheritance.
She was a recipient of the 1993 South Carolina Fiction Writer's Project award, and received a 1999 writing grant from the Illinois Arts Council for a novel in progress, which later became Eaton House. Her YA novel, A View from the Closet Doorway, won the 2008 SouthWest Writer's Conference award in its genre.
Currently she lives in Aurora (Wayne's World!) Illinois and works in Chicago as an IT training specialist for a preeminent international law firm. She has three fledgling children, six cats, two psychotic dogs, and a goldfinch problem. She drives a Saturn.

Product Details

  • File Size: 499 KB
  • Print Length: 276 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004P8JJPA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #643,003 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
(58)
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of Sunflowers June 20, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I will preface this review by stating that I was given a copy of this book to read for free by the author in exchange for submitting the review. However, I have attempted to read and review as if this were not the case in order to give other readers, and the author, my honest and balanced take on the novel.

I will say that I really enjoyed this book. Once I started it was difficult to put down. I found the writing style to flow well with a conversational air that charmed me straight off. I enjoyed the focused point of view and the "voices" of the characters. For 90% of the could tell who was speaking just from dialogue. The characters were well fleshed out and unique with depth and complexity that I enjoyed. I fell in love with Sam. I found the whole book quite a charming read.

So, if I enjoyed it so much, why only four stars? Well, Amazon doesn't have an option giving partial stars. To be honest I'd probably give it a 4.5 if I could. Why not a five? One reason. The book felt a little flat in the areas that should have been the most emotionally charged. The most emotionally deep areas of the book (Sam's arrival in Gus' life, Gus taking Sam to his parents' for the first time, the ending, to name just a few, there were many more) felt flattened. I think the author could have pushed and explored those areas a great deal more, drawing in more tension, sadness, or joy than she did. By all rights the end should have had me in tears but it just didn't quite get there. There was so much emotional potential, but I think it was pushed through too quickly. Part of that is pacing, part of it just felt like the author was holding back a little bit.

I wanted to see Gus struggle more at the beginning, it felt flat because it happened so quickly and easily.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Work of Art Brought to Life January 1, 2012
By Terry
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In Sunflowers, Melodie Starkey has written a story that brings her characters to life, with all the challenges that life offers. Single male parenthood, tangled and negative family relationships, lost and then realized motherhood ... each character's demons and delights are very well cultivated in this poignant novel. Issues addressed through the story line are right to life, abandonment, parental rights, bipolar disorder, and economic disparity. The author deals with mental illness and its effects on individuals and families with empathy, knowledge, and depth. The children in the story are not just miniature adults, but true children, with their own set of emotions and perceptions. This book held my attention for a full day, as I could not put it down and needed to read to the end once started. I would highly recommend this book for readers interested in the many choices faced by ambivalent expectant parents and families facing mental illness.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So, where can I find Gus? January 28, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What upsets me the most about Sunflowers is that Gus isn't real! From the first page, you are sucked into Gus's world and are touched by this damaged, "average Joe" trying to do the best he can for his "problem." What I love about this story is it's from his point of view, you're getting an inside look at what a new dad goes through and how he copes. An excellent novel from a fantastic author. Be sure to check out her other offerings...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful look into the mind July 14, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I judge a book by whether I have trouble putting it down. With this story I had that trouble. The main character's emotions drew me in, as they sparked memories of my own feelings, even if my story is different. I felt a connection and really cared about what happened to all of them. I would recommend this slice of life, as it seemed both, a look into a friend's experiences and yet like it was happening to me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Light and lively filled with emotion and humor September 18, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm currently reading this book and I'm loving it. I'm one of those guys who went to school, got a couple of degrees but never read for pleasure. When I did, it was technical manuals or documentary. I wanted to explore something new what was an easy read that could capture my attention and hold my interest. Sunflowers does it quite well. This book is so enjoyable. The characters feel so real; so visceral. The story is simple but the relationships are complex. Each time I pick this little gym up, I find myself wanting to read more. I would describe it as light and lively with intensely and genuine human emotion. The more I read, the more I feel like I know these characters, as thought they were just across the street..
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The life of a single dad August 1, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
This book surprized me and what it was about,I was shocked that it was wrote from the dad point of view and how far he would go for his children.It was nice to read about a single dad and how much of a struggle it was for him and also it was nice to see the postive side of mental health.At times I would cry but also I'ld be laughing at the little boys and the stuff that little boys do. I would suggest this book as a good read and plus it as so puts faith back into single dads.Also I was happy to see the dad fight for his newborn baby girl and win.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rather a true rendition of bipolar disorder sad end July 14, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
true to bipolar disorder. Unfortunately a sad but true type of ending. It would have been better if the disorder was explained a little bit more in the story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sunflowers July 6, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
From beginning to end, I could not put this book down. Extremely well written. Gus learns to make drastic changes to his lifestyle to care for a child he had known nothing about. Warm & cuddly, yet heartbreaking my real life.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Too easy
Unlike many reviewers I felt the single Dad situation was completely contrived. To set him up as having a very well-paying job and working from home, thus making his transition... Read more
Published 10 hours ago by TAC
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Written very good.
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A bit sad but funny in its own way.
Kept your interest. would have liked a bit t l more information about Sarah's thoughts. Gus was one in a million type of guy!
Published 4 months ago by Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Was good read but
several times had to go back as thought what
did I not read. Was a sad but happy story and would tell
some one to read.
Published 4 months ago by VA
5.0 out of 5 stars Sunflowers
Gus is a great dad. Realistic dialogue, perfectly edited, pg-13. I would read a sequel if one came out, just to see how it all works out.
Published 6 months ago by Diana Lynn
5.0 out of 5 stars Starkey is a master of dialogue
Who would have thought that a simple human story involving just a couple of main characters . . . primarily, a father and his son . . . could be this compelling? Read more
Published 6 months ago by Christine
5.0 out of 5 stars Bittersweet winner.
Wonderfully told by the man's side of things. You find yourself cheering for him and crying for the other dysfunctional people in his,life.
Published 7 months ago by Monica
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
Because of its simplicity it is audacious. Very strong and wonderful characters. The plot is grounded, thought out, reserved and poignant. Read more
Published 9 months ago by TootSweet
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
I really enjoyed this book. Loved the story, characters, settings, and everything about the book. I took my time reading this book as I didn't want it to end. Read more
Published 9 months ago by PAM HOLLOWAY
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More About the Author

Melodie Starkey has been writing fiction since childhood, but unfortunately took thirty years to learn how to type. She received her BA in English from the University of California, Davis. Her short work has appeared in several literary magazines and an anthology of Southern writers titled Inheritance.

She was a recipient of the 1993 South Carolina Fiction Writer's Project award for the short story Stars, and received a 1999 writing grant from the Illinois Arts Council for a novel in progress, which later became Eaton House. Her YA novel, A View from the Closet Doorway, won the 2008 SouthWest Writer's Conference award in its genre.

Currently she lives in Aurora (Wayne's World!) Illinois and works in Chicago as an IT training specialist for a preeminent international law firm. She has three fledgling children, five cats, two psychotic dogs, and a shrew problem.

She draws her inspiration from the Cris Williamson song lyrics, "If I live, I'll be great, I can hardly wait..."

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