Book info

Sunflower Forest (1985)

Sunflower Forest (1985)
Rating
3.49 of 5 Votes: 4
ISBN
0380699222 (ISBN13: 9780380699223)
languge
English
publisher
avon books
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Sunflower Forest (1985)
Sunflower Forest (1985)

About book: I am a huge fan of Torey Hayden. I have read most of her other books and was happy to hear that she was branching out and trying something new with her writing. Although this book is something very new for Hayden she still writes with the captivating loveliness which fills her books.This story is set in Kansas in 1978 and follows Lesley O'Malley, a teenager, as she tries to struggle through her complicated life. Lesley lives with her Mother, Mara, a Hungarian WWII Holocaust survivor who slips into a hazy state between delusions and reality; her 9-year-old sister Megan and her Father, O'Malley, who is a gentle man who tries to keep the peace at all costs.Mara was captured by Nazis during the war and imprisoned in a breeding camp, she loses the two sons she bears while being held captive. Her first son Klaus is taken from her immediately after his birth, never to be seen again. Her second son dies shortly after birth. Mara spends the remainder of her life searching for Klaus, her first-born. Things start to go really wrong when Mara sees a neighbour's child and insists that he is Klaus. He humours her because she brings him candy and gifts. Mara was never able to accept the reality of her losses and is ultimately consumed by her fantasies. The story takes place in America but we are also taken on a journey through Wales where Lesley is to discover some more of the truths about her mothers past.I would recommend this book to Torey Hayden fans and to people that have not read her work before. This shows her in a new light and shows that she does have the skill for writing and not just based on her true experience.

I've read most of Torey Hayden's non fiction works and fallen absolutely in love with them; when I saw The Sunflower Forest on the shelf I was excited to see she was trying something new with her writing. Despite the change from reading her usual books to a purely fictional novel, her distinctively captivating tone is found in every page, bringing a sense of familiarity. The novel was set out quite similarly to the way in which her other books are written; if this is her unique writing style, I'm glad she has it!I had a feeling that The Sunflower Forest would disappoint me when the first few chapters solely illustrated the characters' rather dull lives - however, I realized that this was the whole point of the novel. The characters were whiny, ordinary and constantly fretting over insignificant issues but this only made the The Sunflower Forest more empathetic; by connecting not only to the O'Malley family but their day-to-day lives and petty tribulations too, the events that took place throughout the novel were presented in a manner in which readers could feel and understand the raw pain of the characters.To pick up this book and expect Torey Hayden is wrong; despite the familiar flair of her work, The Sunflower Forest is definitely fiction. The Sunflower Forest should be read for the love of the storyline rather than Hayden's work - this is what changed for me to pick up on the true beauty of the novel.
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Reviews
Tracey Jackson
I started reading this book thinking, yes a good choice I will whizz through this in no time, only to find it getting very interesting and then extremely slow. It is not easy to pick it up and read a bit. I find long stretches are needed to keep your interst and follow the story. This is one of a terrible tragedy which befalls the mother during WWII where she was taken from her family against her will, then an innocent 17 year old, to be a 'breeder' for the Nazi's. After a incident takes place she is cast out of there, only to be then taken to a concentration for women. There she endures starvation and countless 'experiments'. This experience mars her life with tragic consequences. I did enjoy this book, but I don't want to read it again.
Angela
After reading a couple of Torey Hayden's nonfiction books and absolutely loving them, I picked up this fictional attempt and am now very disappointed.The story was obviously aimed at a young adult/coming-of-age audience. The story is told through the teenage eyes of Lesley, whose eccentrically-lovable but emotionally unstable mother behaves, well, in an unstable manner. I can't pinpoint exactly what bothered me so much about this book, but my guess is that Hayden, who is so good at taking someone with severe psychological issues and dissecting their causes and then helping to fix them, is instead trying to throw a lot of psychologically-damaging issues into one family and then show the after effects. If half the things that happened to Lesley's mother had happened to me, I would be pretty messed up--so where's the story there? I can't say that this book was worthless because I really enjoyed the character development, but the plot line was just too full of tragedy to leave time for much else. I can't think of anyone to whom I would recommend this book.
Sara
E' coinvolgente e la morte di Mara arriva davvero all'improvviso. Solo, il viaggio di Lesley in Galles sembra un po' inutile, molto ben descritto, ma non aggiunge granchè al senso della vicenda. Anche il papà è un po' molle, non prende mai la situazione in mano e lascia che sia la figlia a sbrogliarsela con tutte le sue domande sulla madre mentalmente segnata. Che poi, il figlio perduto? Tutto ruota lì intorno, ma mica si scopre che fine ha fatto. Oh, quando Lesley ha quella conversazione in treno con la ragazza gallese, le stesse cose idiote che chiede sul Kansas sono quelle che ho pensato anch'io... "Ah, il Paese di Dorothy nel Mago di Oz!", poi le spiagge della Florida, Hollywood e New York. Stop. Se pensi all'America, viene in mente quello. Almeno per i primi trenta secondi.P.S. La Foresta dei Girasoli poi non esiste... erano Lupi, ma Mara si è convinta fosse piena di fiori. Per quello è sopravvissuta a tutto - vedeva fiori al posto dei lupi. Alla fine la vita è come tu la immagini.
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