Title: Amaryllis in Blueberry
Author: Christina Meldrum
Release Date: February 8, 2011
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5
Jack Slepy is unable to control his wife or his four daughters, and he is frustrated with his life. In an effort to atone for his sins, he decides that he needs a change of scenery. He decides to move his wife and four children to West Africa, where he can spread his Christian beliefs, as well as put his medical degree to good use helping the indigenous people. But he and his wife Christina are so wrapped up in their problems, they don’t see how their children are unraveling around them.
Amaryllis in Blueberry has been compared to Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, but since I haven’t read that novel, I went into this book without any real expectations. The story is told from multiple perspectives – each of the four daughters, the parents, and a woman back home named Clara. As a result, while the reader does have the opportunity to see the story from multiple points of view and understand the motives of almost all the major characters in the book, it can be very confusing. Some of the characters aren’t as well developed, and as a result their voices aren’t distinctive. Readers may not be able to tell who is narrating the story from voice alone.
Meldrum is a very talented author and her writing style is breathtaking. I was able to read this book in one sitting, simply because of the grace of Meldrum’s writing style. I was blown away by her prose, and I can’t say enough great things about it. I would be willing to read her next book based on her writing talent alone.
The most interesting character in Amaryllis in Blueberry was Mary Catherine, an anorexic, self-mutilating girl who is extremely devout in her faith. While I didn’t necessarily like her, I thought her storyline was fascinating, especially the crises of faith she experienced over the course of the book. I was also in shock that her parents were so wrapped up in their own lives that they didn’t notice she was on death’s door because she was so thin.
Amaryllis in Blueberry is an ambitious novel, and it’s difficult to say how well it succeeds. On one hand, it’s a book that kept my attention and kept me reading. But when I was finished, I felt uneasy. The picture of the book in my head was very vague and I felt as though there were some dropped plotlines and the story wasn’t as fleshed out as it could have been. That being said, it kept me reading from beginning to end and went very quickly, as I was swept up in the story. Though I have mixed feelings about the book, I’m definitely interested in seeing what Meldrum does next, as her talent at writing gorgeous prose really has me intrigued.