Monday, July 19, 2010

Flower Children by Maxine Swann *Review*

A swing hangs in the middle of the living room. The house was built by the parents. The children- two girls and two boys- run free all day, dance naked in the rain, climb apple tress, ride ponies, press their faces into showers of leaves, rub mud all over their bodies and sit out in the sun to let it dry. When their parents invite other adults for skinny-dipping in the creek, the children memorize all the body parts to discuss later among themselves.
Maxine Swann's Flower Children is the intimate, shocking, funny, heartrending, and exultant story of four children growing up in rural Pennsylvania, the offspring of devout hippies who turned their backs on Ivy League education in favor of experiments in communal living and a whole new world for their children. The children, in turn, find themselves impossibly at odds with their surroundings, both delighted and unnerved by a life without limits. But as the parents split, and puberty hits, the ground seems to shift. The children's freedoms have not come without a cost to their innocence
Based on the author's childhood, Flower Children was originally a short story. Now expanded to include many vignettes of the children's early life, we come to know the four siblings throughout their teen years as well.
What most kids these days would have thought of as an ideal childhood with no rules was at first a wonderful exploration period for Lu, Maeve, Tuck & Clyde. But upon entering school, the older children realize they know more then they should at such a tender age. They have been exposed to naked bodies being-allowed to take baths with their father and pot smoking parties. This embarasses them once they realize other children do not live like they do and they become shy and keep things to themselves.
Flower Children was an interesting account of an alternative lifestyle that I have not been exposed to before. That being said, I did not like the book. I can't give you a good reason why, it just was not what I thought it would be. 2/5 stars