Winter Flower by Charles Sheehan-Miles
Published by Cincinnatus Press
Released June 4, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Note: I received this as a free ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review.
A couple of months ago, I wrote an article about what trigger warnings are and whether or not they were necessary for literature. What I said in that article is that I don’t think they’re necessary. This book changed my mind about that. While I don’t care for trigger warnings generally, Winter Flower deals with so many difficult topics that I feel like it’s necessary to advise readers of the following triggers: human trafficking, rape, bullying, violence against transgender people, adultery, alcoholism, drug use, and violence. Hell, I’m probably forgetting a few things.
It takes a lot for me to feel upset reading a book, but this book had so many scenes that left me angry or in tears. It’s an extremely hard book to read as it deals with heavy topics, such as those I mentioned above. With that said, however, it is also an incredibly well-written novel and one I’m glad to have read, even if I’ll never read it a second time (I can’t put myself through all those emotions again).
Winter Flower follows one family as they experience an unspeakable tragedy. The story starts on Brenna’s sixteenth birthday. Brenna’s parents give her a car, and that night she takes off and is never seen again. It quickly becomes apparent that Brenna was kidnapped.
Losing a child in such a way and not knowing if they’re alive or dead is something that no one should have to experience. As you can imagine, Brenna’s kidnapping leaves the family in ruins. Brenna’s mother, Erin, becomes an alcoholic. Her father, Cole, is imprisoned and becomes a felon for an act of violence he committed after Brenna’s disappearance. Sam, Brenna’s little brother, spends most of his time hiding or trying to avoid bullies at school. The family is forced to move from their gigantic house to a dilapidated home in rural Alabama due to Cole’s conviction.
The story is told from the perspectives of each of the four family members. The author, Charles Sheehan-Miles, did an amazing job of making each character unique and personable. You really start to feel like you know each one of them personally, which makes it even harder to read about what they’re having to go through.
The parts of the novel told from Brenna’s perspective are so intense and heavy at times that I found myself having to take a break for a day or two before I could move on. I’ve never read a novel about human trafficking, but Sheehan-Miles did a wonderful job of describing how a person can be forced into prostitution and the violence and coercion that keeps them there.
I don’t want to spoil the ending, but suffice it to say that the ending was incredibly realistic for the simple fact that everything wasn’t wrapped up perfectly. In fact, this whole novel is so real – one of the reasons it’s so emotionally draining to read. Despite it’s being draining, however, I strongly urge you to read it if the triggers I mentioned at the beginning of the article don’t keep you away. It’s a powerful read that deals with a very important topic.