Monday, 5 March 2018

Review // Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton

Published: 8th February 2018
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Format: e-Book

Synopsis: Lily wakes up one crisp Sunday morning on the side of the road. She has no idea how she got there. It is all very peaceful and beautiful. It is only when the police car, and then the ambulance arrive, and she sees her own body that she realises that she is in fact... dead. But what is she supposed to do now? Lily has no option but to follow her body and see her family - her parents and her twin brother start falling apart. And then her twin brother Ben gives her a once in a deathtime opportunity - to use his own body for a while. But will Lily give Ben his body back? She is beginning to have a rather good time...

Thank you to Hot Key Books for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sunflowers in February is Phyllisa Shrimpton’s debut novel so I didn’t really know what to expect – which is exactly why I couldn’t wait to get started on it. I must admit, a little bit of the draw was how much I love things to match – reading a book with February in the title, *in* February? Yes please! I’m easily amused by small things....

Right from the off the book had me, truly and completely, in its grips. Lily is a flawed character and it’s not tried to be covered up. In fact, it’s her flaws that really make the book what it is – which is a beautiful book that reflects upon a person’s need to discover what it’s like to really live. Lily has to deal with discovering her own dead body and how her absence from the world affects those around her. Often, she has little regard for anyone else’s feelings bar her own but again, this is just one of her flaws that is both acknowledged and worked on throughout the book.

It’s important to point out too, that this isn’t just a book about Lily. It’s about her parents, her twin brother, her friends, and more importantly about the reader. I know that I at least found myself wondering about the differences I have made in people’s lives and whether the life that I lead on a daily basis is one that ultimately will bring me happiness. I don’t mean in a religious way either, just whether i’ll be able to look back and feel like *i’ve* lived the best life I could.

The discovery of Lily’s killer and the consequences of that are just one factor to keep you reading but it isn’t held as a turning point for the book itself, just a turning point for Lily as a character and what she has learned about herself and her life. Though it’s an emotional and sad book, it’s not all inner reflections and a big ol’ cry fest. Of course at the heart of it, that’s what you get, but on the surface it’s a really simple and easy book to read.  Let me a bit less positive for a moment though.

The whole feeling of the book changes at around 3rd of the way in. The body swapping, other dimensional aspect just felt absurdly strange considering the beautiful heartfelt writing that preceded it.  It got easier to take as the book went further on but at times it felt a little ridiculous and really took the book on a different path. It didn’t lessen the meaning of the book, but I think it will suffer slightly due to the ‘freaky Friday’ feelings that came from it.

Overall though it was a great read. I couldn’t put it down and it’s stayed with me after the fact of reading it which is quite rare these days! I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for Shrimpton.

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