Published by Red Hen Press on April 4, 2017
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Poetic Book Tours for review consideration.
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He was nine when the vines first wrapped themselves around him and burrowed into his skin. Now a college botany major, Jeremy is desperately looking for a way to listen to the plants and stave off their extinction. But when the grip of the vines becomes too intense and Health Services starts asking questions, he flees to Brooklyn, where fate puts him face to face with a group of climate-justice activists who assure him they have a plan to save the planet, and his plants.
As the group readies itself to make a big Earth Day splash, Jeremy soon realizes these eco-terrorists devotion to activism might have him and those closest to him tangled up in more trouble than he was prepared to face. With the help of a determined, differently abled flame from his childhood, Zoe; her deteriorating, once rabble-rousing grandmother; and some shocking and illuminating revelations from the past, Jeremy must weigh completing his mission to save the plants against protecting the ones he loves, and confront the most critical question of all: how do you stay true to the people you care about while trying to change the world?
Kinship of Clover is an engaging read. Based on its synopsis, though, I expected a much different book. The real stars here are Flo and her granddaughter, Zoe. I couldn’t get enough of those two, especially Flo! Jeremy is supposed to be the protagonist, but he felt more like a secondary character (still important, but secondary).
I have to be honest: There were some things in this novel that made me feel uncomfortable. The descriptions of skin color (especially combined with hair color) felt…off. The disability rep as far as Zoe herself goes was fine. But the thoughts of those around her were problematic and left unaddressed. (I actually winced a few times.) The intent may have been to give readers an honest look inside the characters’ minds, but it wasn’t executed in a convincing way.
Flo’s story as a portrait of Alzheimer’s is so compelling, it overshadows Jeremy’s storyline. Part of me is bummed about that, because that blurb is what drew me in. But it worked out; I enjoyed the book. Zoe’s concern for Flo, how perceptive she is of her grandmother’s feelings as Alzheimer’s takes over, was incredibly moving. Zoe is feisty (just like her grandmother) and wise beyond her years. The bond between her and her grandmother pours out of these pages. I loved reading Flo’s memories of her life as an activist for social justice and change, and I admired the way she kept on fighting.
Have you ever read a novel that delivered a different story than the synopsis suggested? How much do you think that falls on the reader and what they bring into the reading experience?
Thanks to Poetic Book Tours for including me on this book tour. Check out what other readers have to say about this title by visiting other stops on the tour!