Amaryllis in Blueberry by Christina Meldrum is another novel that will make my favorites list this year! This novel is so beautifully written and full of emotion, both good and bad, that it will capture you from the beginning and not let go until you turn the very last page and truthfully not even then; I’m still thinking about this story. Also, this cover – have you ever seen anything so beautiful!
This story is different in that it starts with the ending. Yes, strange but once you read the book, very fitting. The author does not give away the whole ending – just pieces that are revealed bit by bit as you come towards the actual end of the novel. It’s also a story that jumps around a lot – different narrators and there is always the before and the after and even while in Africa the story jumps back to Michigan with more background. While it may sound like it would be confusing, it isn’t. Amazingly it all flows so well – one piece into the next until you are just left amazed by the way the story unfolds before your eyes.
The Slepy’s are a dysfunctional family to say the least. You know that right off the start. There is Dick and Seena and their four daughters – Mary Grace, Mary Catherine, Mary Tessa, and Amaryllis who was born in a blueberry patch and is considered the strangest of her family with her very wild imagination. The thing is that Yllis as they call Amaryllis is special; she can see and feel what others can’t. She is also more special to her mother at the expense of the other girls for reasons that become apparent as you read on through the novel.
Seena is an emotionally distant mother who seems more buried in her books than anything else. She doesn’t see anything around her or if she does she just brushes it off. She is so distant and involved in herself that she doesn’t see truly scary behaviors manifesting in any of her girls. Dick is a father who is a devout Catholic and very particular about the ways in which he wants things to be. When this doesn’t happen and he begins to see huge breaks in his family structure he asks his priest what he should do. The answer – pick up and move your entire family to Africa and become a medical missionary. Dick, wanting nothing more than to run from his personal demons, does just this.
Even before Africa the girls, especially Mary Grace and Mary Catherine, had problems. However, upon arriving in Africa, everything spirals out of control for all of them. Dick and Seena, as usual, seem preoccupied with themselves until the things happening with their girls become to big for even them to ignore. I hate to say too much because I don’t want to give away the heart of the story and it is the development of these characters and their issues in this novel that will be what grabs you and twists you in many different directions. The story jumps from each of the girls to Seena and Dick, growing with momentum, until we come to the startling ending that even I didn’t see coming.
Amaryllis in Blueberry is the perfect novel for a book club. I really wish I had a group of people I could have discussed Amaryllis in Blueberry with and luckily for book groups there is a Reading Group Guide on the author’s website. This novel spans many topics ranging from marriage, infidelity, faith, love, eating disorders, cutting, and probably many more. It is an emotionally complex and deep novel; one that will leave you thinking about it’s dynamics long after you’ve finished it. Amaryllis in Blueberry by Christina Meldrum is a novel I would recommend for those who like literary fiction.
You can pick up your own copy of Amaryllis in Blueberry by Christina Meldrum here in the US and here in Canada. Christina’s first novel is called Madapple and I purchased it after reading this one and can’t wait for some time to pick it up. This is an author that I’ll be watching in the hopes of more novels. Be sure to visit Christina Meldrum’s website for more information on her work.
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My copy of Amaryllis in Blueberry by Christina Meldrum was received for review from Inkwell Management.