Saturday, 24 July 2021

Book Review: The Hope Flower by Joy Dettman

 The Hope Flower
by
Joy Dettman
 
From the bestselling author of Mallawindy and the Woody Creek series comes a story of love and survival.
 

 

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia

Publication date: 30th March 2021

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Pages: 432

RRP: $32.99AUD

Format read: Paperback

Source: Courtesy of the publisher

 


 

 
About the book

Lori Smyth-Owen isn't your average teenager - as you'd expect from the only girl in a family of twelve. Or they were a family, until their father took his own life to escape his bed-bound wife, too obese to leave her room.

But for Lori and the remaining brothers, there is no escape from their volatile, mentally unstable mother. They raise themselves away from the gaze of the authorities, realising that though abandoned, they are now in charge. They can control everything, including their mother's food intake.

In time, their mother emerges, after losing two-thirds of her body weight. But does she bring with her the seed of hope for a better future, or will all hell break loose?
 
My review
 
The Hope Flower is a heart-wrenching story with a dysfunctional family at its centre.  Told from the perspective of fifteen year old Lori who is the glue that holds the family together. The only girl in the 12 siblings she is mature beyond her years and organises the family timetable and finances. The older boys protect their sister whilst the younger boys look to her as a mother figure. Their mentally unstable mother is the only thing that keeps them from being taken by the authorities.
 
The story is poignant and unsettling however there are moments of humour, all be it a bit dark they still  gave me a laugh.
Unlike Bridge of Clay, a story of five male siblings left to raise themselves, the Smyth-Owen siblings rarely fought and I think only once did a disagreement turn to fisticuffs. I found this a bit unrealistic.
 
Mavis Smyth-Owen is well portrayed as the slovenly, mentally unstable adult who throws violent temper tantrums if she doesn't get her own way.
The citizens of the small town of Willama band together in an inconspicuous way by doing small acts of kindness; giving the older boys jobs and providing a safe house for the younger boys when needed. They are there but not interfering. 
  
Through a couple of chapters from Mavis' viewpoint the reader learns that the dysfunctionality goes beyond this family to Mavis' own upbringing and brings a new perspective on why she is the way she is. 
 
There is an underlying theme of hope. A wavering hope that their situation will change and their mother will return to the person only the older children can remember.
 
The Hope Flower is a difficult read although the power of courage and the driving force of hope that emanated from the pages had me completely engrossed. 
 
5 / 5   🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
 
About the author
 
Joy Dettman was born in Echuca, Victoria. She spent her early years in small towns on either side of the Murray River. In the late sixties, she and her husband moved to the outer suburbs of Melbourne, where they have chosen to remain. Joy is an award-winning writer of short stories set in country Australia, which were published in Australia and New Zealand between 1993 and 1997. The complete collection Diamond in the Mud, was published in 2007. Joy went on to write the highly acclaimed novels Mallawindy, Jacarranda Blue, Goose Girl, Yesterday's Dust, The Seventh Day, Henry's Daughter, One Sunday, The Silent Inheritance and the Woody Creek novels. 
 
                                 Aussie Author Challenge 
 
 

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