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Flower Children: A Novel Paperback – June 3, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
a"The New York Times"
?Writing in lucid, crystalline prose...[Swann] captures the incongruities of the 1970s counterculture as seen from the point of view of a young child, the shifting attitudes the narrator and her three siblings take toward the adult world as they slip-slide from childhood into adolescence, and the incalculable ways in which the passage of time colorizes the past.?
?"The New York Times"
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?
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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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Yes - nostalgic, but also insightful and penetrating, and funny - and oh god I wish we could raise our kids like that now.... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Nancy Black
This sounded like an interesting book but I gave up after the first few chapters. It just rambles on and on... Read morePublished 17 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 21 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 on June 4, 2014 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 on April 29, 2014 by Katherine Olson
This book was an easy read though I felt like there was some empty blanks in structure and time linePublished on April 29, 2014 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