Amaryllis in BlueberryThis story starts off in Africa with Seena on trial for the murder of her husband, Dick. Then it immediately rewinds, and the characters are now in Michigan and it plays forth from there, jumping back to the trial only occasionally for a few pages. The family is enjoying their summer when certain things come to light, and Dick decides that he is going to take his family to Africa in the fall. Africa turns out to be a surprise for all of them. Once in Africa, the family goes through a journey in finding out about God, each other, and themselves.
Paperback: 384 pages
Publish Date: February 8, 2011
From the author's website:
In the stirring tradition of The Secret Life of Bees and The Poisonwood Bible, Amaryllis in Blueberry explores the complexity of human relationships set against an unforgettable backdrop. Told through the haunting voices of Dick and Seena Slepy and their four daughters, Christina Meldrum's soulful novel weaves together the past and the present of a family harmed—and healed—by buried secrets.
My thoughts: This book was extremely difficult for me to read. I even avoided it for a few days. The story dragged for me, at least the first two-thirds did. Eventually I sat down and made myself just finish it. It’s hard to put it in a summary when there are so many points of view, so many ‘mini stories’ in a way. The points of view are: Seena (the mother), Dick (the father), the daughters, Mary Grace, Mary Catherine, Mary Tessa, Amaryllis, and a few more! I also don’t want to give anything away for those of you who might read it.
I felt like a lot of the book was thoughts and not dialogue, and a lot of those thoughts had to do with God. God, or Jesus, was mentioned multiple times on a page, in over half the book. In saying this, I don’t have a problem with God or Jesus, and I am a Catholic just like the characters, although not as extreme in my thinking. But it was just too much for me, too much talk about the characters relationship to God.
I need to say some good things about this book, because there were a few. The cover, for one, is lovely. Beautiful even; I love it. Also, the story itself was good; I just couldn’t get into it. Additionally, while the first two-thirds of the book lagged, the last third was really enjoyable and moved at a faster pace.
Let me leave you with one of my favorite quotes. This takes place in Africa. What happens is that Dick, the father, is being yelled at to “stop stealing people’s souls” (p. 158) because he just took a picture of some African women. Dick calls those people superstitious. This is what their guide/friend had to say to him,
“Superstition?” Mawuli says. “Can you explain this to me, this word, ‘superstition’? You Americans like this word when referring to African beliefs, but I see little difference between your beliefs and this so-called superstition. You won’t eat meat on Friday. Is this superstition? You trickle water on the heads of babies to save their souls, while you talk about being washed in the blood of the lamb. Superstition? You believe a wafer and wine become the body and blood of Christ, and you eat it. Superstition?” (p. 158)It’s funny how people see things differently; I didn’t like this book, but maybe it will become a favorite for one of you.
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.