Author: C.M. Barrett
Publish Date: January 23, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the author. This did not affect my review.
Why You're Reading This Book:
- You are looking for more recent historical fiction.
- You don't mind a lot of characters.
- You like getting inside a character's head.
From Goodreads.com: "In Gone to Flowers, young people leave New York City in 1968 to live together on a rural commune.
Eli, hoping to conquer his fear of intimacy by moving in with seven other people, finds peace in the communal garden but can't make love blossom.
Mary casts off casual sex and avoids the potential prison of marriage and motherhood until her feelings for a bisexual man make vows of celibacy look like the worst idea since Selective Service.
Though Amethyst's parents tell her she can only be safe among Jewish people, she is determined to free herself of their fears. A master chef, she discovers some dangerous ingredients in her recipe for romance when her parents disown her.
Michael, a former junkie, envisions communal life as a permanent party with himself as host. He shakes his addiction to control others, but when he loses control of his libido, he risks his marriage.
Against the background of Vietnam, the Chicago Democratic Convention, Woodstock, My Lai, and Kent State, they pursue their visions. The snake in this fragile Eden, a seductive and disturbed teenager, brings their individual and collective vulnerabilities to the surface and thwarts their efforts to be true to themselves and each other."
My Two Cents:
While this book takes place in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it is less a historical fiction book than a story of people that just happens to take place in a past time period. What's the difference between those two for me? Historical fiction to me tends to have a heavier focus on events going on and how the characters in the book are affected by said events. In Gone to Flowers, we get a flavor of that. The characters are aware of what's going on in the world and they live on a hippie commune that they created themselves but the events of the time are not really in the forefront of the minds of the characters. It's more background music for each of their individual stories. In this case, it works very well as this is a very character centric book.
All of the characters in the book are fairly young and idealistic. We live in very different times now (the characters are not much younger than I am now) so it was interesting to see how each character coped with their situation in a different way. Because the book is so character centric, you do get to see their inner thoughts and where they are coming from, which is nice.
There are a lot of main characters in this book and I found myself getting all of the stories straight. There are also a lot of minor characters to keep track of. I also found it difficult to distinguish between the "voices" of the different characters, which added to the difficulty in keeping track of things. I had to keep flipping back and forth (one downside to e-reading is that flipping takes a long time) in order to make sure that I was remembering correctly who did or said what.
Bottom line: This is a good book for anyone that loves knowing what a character is thinking at all times.