Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tell a Tale: The Flower Boy

When you backpack, you rely on "Give a Book/Take a Book" shelves at each stop you make.  That way, your pack doesn't get too heavy.  Some stops you'll find nothing but horror books written in German, but once in awhile you really luck out and find an incredible gem, like this one~

The Flower Boy by Karen Roberts

Summary (from Goodreads): The charming and resourceful 4-year-old at the center of Karen Roberts's The Flower Boy enjoys roaming around his environs, and who wouldn't: this 1930s Ceylon tea plantation is so splendid and enchanted that "one almost expected to see a gnome scuttling away into the undergrowth, or a couple of fairies swinging from the vines." But Chandi's mother is a housekeeper, his father is too poor to give up his job in a distant village, and the child dreams of "a house of his own, not a room off the kitchen. " In other words, he wants the life of John Buckwater, the English planter his mother works for. And although Chandi has an enterprising business of hawking stolen flowers to the English upper crust, he sees a trip to England, where everyone "seemed to have huge bungalows and beautiful books and red-and-green checked shorts," as a faster way to achieve his goals. As the years go by, the slowly developing relationship between Buckwater and Chandi's mother, Premawathi, gives him hope that someday he'll continue his education in England.
Lush with period detail, Roberts's debut is elegant and moving.  These are decent people following their hearts--yet in a situation where doing so will lead to disappointment, if not tragedy. Roberts is most effective when showing how this reality, intertwined with a distant war and the crumbling of an empire, cuts through Chandi's naive perspective and willed paradise. -
Ceylon 1930's (Modern day Sri Lanka)
Review: This is a beautiful book that's about so many things. It's about strangers in a strange land, family, choices, relationships, and expectations, but mostly, it's about life.

You will fall in love with the characters, even the ones who you want to shake some sense into, as they each meander in their own clumsy way through 1930's and 40's Ceylon.

I loved how the characters developed and changed as time marched on. I hope I'm not giving too much away to say that I wasn't overly satisfied with the ending though. I wanted different things to happen and for life long dreams to be fulfilled. Instead I was heartbroken and felt like the last words on the last page came far too abruptly. 

That being said, I think it's a the sign of a good book to make you feel this way. It's the goal of every writer to make the reader become so invested in all of the characters and the storyline that they become passionate about it all and never want it to end.

Do you take books with you when you travel or do you rely on the hope that someone will leave something good behind?  Leave a comment below~

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