Thursday, 18 October 2007

Fascinating book about growing up

Finished October 12
Flower Children by Maxine Swann
This novel follows the maturing of four children growing up in rural Pennsylvania with parents that can best be defined as hippies. The parents divorce when the children are quite young and the story moves back and forth between living with the mother, and her various boyfriends, in the countryside, and visiting the father, and his various girlfriends elsewhere. It takes into account the grandparents on the father's side, also somewhat of a hippie nature, with many people coming and going, no focus on financial security and lots of free thinking. The one visit to these grandparents that is described is enchanting and sad at the same time. The visits to their maternal grandmother are quite different. They are on their best behaviour, dressed tidily and behaving politely.
The children are mostly free to spend time on what interests them, and yet are aware of the differences between their home life and that of most of their friends at school. The father in particular treats the children as small adults and talks to them of things like his sex life and other adult subjects.
The last chapter is one of reminisence, as the children visit their childhood home as adults and see it all with adult eyes.
The characters come alive and, with much of the book told from a child's perspective, the observations seem very honest and factual, without the overtones of approval or disapproval.
I really enjoyed this novel.

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