Thursday, October 15, 2015

American Flowers

People thought nineteen-year-old Chris Shafer had everything going for him. Lives, however, are rarely as they appear from the outside, and not all scars are visible.

Seventeen-year-old Allie Laughton's life is turned upside down when her trust in another is horribly betrayed. Finding herself in a strange town, a chance meeting with Chris Shafer changes her life--and his--forever.

American Flowers follows the lives of Chris and Allie as circumstance and poor choices transform them from promising, young adults to something else entirely. Caught in the undertow of drugs, crime, and death, their lives spin out of control. Ultimately pursued, they are forced to reconcile the people they believed they were, with the people they've become.

Michael A. McLellan is an American author of fiction. His works include the 2014 novel
After and Again
and the shorts Joe Price and Anywhere But Here. Michael lives in Northern California.

Most helpful customer reviews

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
5Powerful reading and break-neck pace. Brace yourself to be unsettled.
By Sarah Margolis Pearce

American Flowers is not for the faint of heart. It is a powerful portrait of the dark influences of drugs in American culture. Strong writing and superb character development, with a unique feeling for setting and the human condition, makes this a fascinating and unsettling read. I simply could not put it down.

The story revolves around a relationship between two young adults, Chris and Allie. The author, Michael A. McLellan, is adept at creating sympathy for his characters even in the face of their unwise and chaotic choices. We first meet Chris scoring at his dealer’s house in Napa. The writing is already on the wall about Chris’ fate: he is an addict and falling deeper and deeper into a hole. He loses track of days. He is unkempt and knows it. He is acutely aware of how he must look to the world. In his hometown, he was once a baseball prodigy but is now identified as the loser, tweaker. Yet, I found myself quietly rooting for him, seeing potential and intelligence and a softness and insight that become more evident when he meets the beautiful and naive Allie. In short, I was seduced as Allie will be shortly. The relationship between Chris and Allie is no different than any summertime romance when two young adults meet. While the attraction is strong, it is ill-fated: both Chris and Allie come from fractured backgrounds with no moral anchor to guide them. Chris is on precarious ground in his approach to adulthood through his drug use, which he continually deludes himself as a temporary state. Allie has been traumatized by her mother’s boyfriend’s attempted rape and leaves her home in Bakersfield to live with a not-so-supportive aunt. Allie’s character is built around her disdain of being controlled. She is determined to make her own way. Allie shares this need for making her own destiny with Chris, which he responds to, initially, with love and support; later with aiding her fall into addiction. But Chris’ demons haunt him leaving him searching for an elusive release from his torture. A release he cannot conjure up by himself. His relationship with his father bears no signs of love or guidance. We later learn that Chris’ late mother was psychologically abusive to her son. Thus, the relationship that develops between Chris and Allie is an escape from nightmare childhoods for both of them—a moment of peace and happiness together in shared misery.

But it is a fleeting moment.

The story picks up pace and quickly starts careening into drama, violence and a conclusion that, in its shocking climax, I did not see coming.

The brutal and no-holds-barred look at drug usage will be difficult for some to read and poignant for others. If you know someone who has gone through this experience, there will be familiar and disturbing passages. However, for those who have not been touched by the drug culture, it is a must-read if only to understand the damage it has done and continues to do to our communities.

This novel is a departure from McLellan’s previous work. It demonstrates that the author has a wide range of talent and breadth to delve into new dimensions of stories. I am looking forward to reading his future ventures with great anticipation.

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
5The book is very well written and easy to follow
By T.R.
Outstanding book! Read it in two days, couldn't put it down! The book is very well written and easy to follow. I absolutely loved the story line and where it took the characters. I've read many many books but this is by far one of my favorites! I definitely recommend this book for anyone who is into young adult romances. For me, if a book makes me feel like I'm in the story, it's a really great book, and that's exactly what this book did.

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