The Sunflower Forest

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Author: Torey Haden

Page count: 461

Genre: (Fiction) Tragedy

Book Synopsis:  Seventeen-year-old Lesley is a typical teenage girl: her worries revolve around boys, choosing the right college and bickering with her younger sister Megan. She adores her beautiful, captivating mother Mara, who tells evocative stories of her childhood in Hungary and Germany before the war. However, Mara has one memory of the past that she can never share…

As Lesley begins to uncover the horror of her mother’s secret, their idyllic family life shatters around them, and Lesley realizes that her mother is not the person she thought she knew.

 

Don’t let the synopsis deceive you because it’s not entirely a Coming-Of-Age novel!

Hayden, a usually non-fiction writer has gloriously attempted writing fiction stories into 3 novels, this being one of them, and it is absolutely lovely!

Based on a true story (Hayden has let on that she found inspiration to write this one after coming across an newspaper article on the case of a local woman who had been a part of a Holocaust ), it’s heart-breaking!

The story, well combined with bursts of comedy, tragedy and your daily dose of teenage problems, all to form a devastatingly disturbing novel, especially when you’re halfway through it. It’s sad,really!

The mother-daughter tie has been well captured, ever so smoothly, and every so normally, devoid of melodrama save for the mother’s bouts of eccentricity and eventually mania. It’s painful seeing a daughter hold on to those sane parts of her mother, of her to pretend that everything’s just fine, her mother will come back to her, like she always does!

Here’s how it starts:

In that year what I wanted the most was a boyfriend. I was seventeen and had never had a date. I had the rest:breasts, hair under my arms, my period, the desire. I certainly had the desire.

Once, when I was little and not too informed about the mechanics, my best friend and I had pretended to make love, our legs spread apart scissor-fashion, until we were crotch to crotch, one person’s sneaker under the other person’s nose.My grandmother had caught us at it. She sent Cecily home and spanked me with a wooden mixing spoon and made me sit in the pantry to say Hail Mary. There was no doubt in her mind, she said:  i got such interests from my mother. Perhaps I did. However, even at that tender age, I decided they weren’t such bad interests to have.

 

The writing has already grabbed your interest, hasn’t it? Don’t lie.

Again, it’s not entirely a Coming-Of-Age Novel!

Anyways, I found the book a bit of a difficult read; I mean, its not brain-whacking or anything, I just found it tough to read atleast as I was approaching midway, but then the journey found it’s pace.

I somehow like how Hayden ended the novel (most readers might beg to differ!) because somethings in life need not have a proper stated justification, a reason, a plausible cause for why it happened, or a happy/hopeful conclusion … some things are just inevitable.

 

Ratings:

Critics: 3.5/5

I’d rate it: 3.4/5