Monday 9 December 2019

See What Flowers

Finished November 19
See What Flowers by Shannon Mullen

This novel is told in four parts. It begins with a couple, Emma in Toronto, Adam in Vancouver, dealing with the aftermath of something they don't understand. They live together in Toronto, but Adam disappeared suddenly ten days ago and Emma hasn't been able to figure out why or where he is. Adam finds himself in jail in Vancouver, unable to remember how he got there. He is a mess, and feels ashamed and confused. As the two reconnect and try to make sense of what has happened, they react in different ways. Emma is a doctor working in emergency care, and Adam is part owner of a gym that is doing well. But he can't seem to move forward, and Emma finds it difficult to deal with this new version of the man she loves.
Part two moves back to before the incident that changed everything, and looks at their lives, their successes, and their happiness. We see how much they care about each other, but also the insecurity that couple often have about their relationship.
Part three deals with Adam's actions that led him to where he ended up as the book began, and we gradually understand that this is a more complex issue, and one that isn't easy for anyone involved.
Part four takes us a few months forward as each of them, in a new environment looks for a way to a future they can manage.
This is a fascinating first novel by a very promising writer. She deals with the realities of mental illness and its effects on both the person living with the illness and the people close to them. The story is told in vignettes with headers of the speaker, the date, and the time. She uses fonts to indicate what people are saying and what they are thinking. She uses pop culture references to bring a sense of normalcy to situations. I really like her style and how she her writing really made the characters real and relatable.
This is a book I'd recommend to anyone interested in people and what makes them tick.

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