My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Thank you to Hot Key Books for sending me an advanced reading copy of this book
I found this book a really touching, sensitive depiction of death. Unlike other books i’ve read which follow a person after their death, Sunflowers in February somehow manages to explore the idea without being too maudlin or gruesome. Funny in places and so heartbreaking in others it moved me to tears, this book is an accurate and touching portrayal of grief.
Sunflowers in February follows Lily directly following the hit and run accident that killed her. Lily follows her family, confused and angry and desperate for another chance at life until one day she gets the opportunity to live through her twin brother. Will this last chance be enough for Lily to make peace with her death and move on, or will her brother have to share his life indefinitely.
This is such a hard topic to write about and if i’m being honest, isn’t usually a subject I generally like to read about. I struggled to read The Lovely Bones (which is a similar sort of plot but much, much darker) however, the title of this book evokes such lovely, bright images I was hopeful that I would enjoy reading it. I liked that the reason behind Lily’s death wasn’t too macabre. It was refreshing for a book not to focus on the gruesomeness of the murder/death and I felt it allowed the reader to focus more on what Shrimpton was trying to say about grief.
I think that this book will be a useful book for teenagers to read to help them understand their actions have consequences, that they aren’t immortal and to make the most of their life and their families whilst they have them. As characters Lily and Ben are your typical teenagers, managing to be loveable, naive and irritating all at once. As a parent myself, Lily’s desperation to live again and the complete despair of her mother really moved me and I yearned for them all to find some kind of resolution to their pain even though I knew that the happy ending I wanted where Lily was magically resurrected wasn’t going to happen!
In all, this book left me feeling very positively. It’s a beautifully written YA exploration of death and grief.