Flower Children (2020)

Flower Children Maxine Swann Flower Children From an award winning writer an elegant lively moving novel that portrays the strangely celebrated and unsupervised childhood of four hippie offspring in the seventies and eighties When Flower Child
  • Title: Flower Children
  • Author: Maxine Swann
  • ISBN: 9781594489457
  • Page: 225
  • Format: Hardcover
Flower Children Maxine Swann From an award winning writer an elegant, lively, moving novel that portrays the strangely celebrated and unsupervised childhood of four hippie offspring in the seventies and eighties When Flower Children s first chapter was published as a short story in 1997, it announced the arrival of a new literary voice it won every literary prize applicable the Ploughshares CoheFrom an award winning writer an elegant, lively, moving novel that portrays the strangely celebrated and unsupervised childhood of four hippie offspring in the seventies and eighties When Flower Children s first chapter was published as a short story in 1997, it announced the arrival of a new literary voice it won every literary prize applicable the Ploughshares Cohen Award, the O Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize and was included in the 1998 Best American Short Stories Now, Maxine Swann expands and continues that story, bringing its four sibling characters through to the other end of childhood, in a much anticipated book that only Swann could write Based on the author s own family, Flower Children is the amusing, moving, beautifully painted story of four children growing up in rural Pennsylvania, the offspring of devoutly hippie parents Impossibly at odds with their surroundings, the children find themselves both delighted and unnerved by a life without limits A swing hangs in the middle of the living room The children run free all day, dance naked in the rain, and go riding on ponies with the boys who live up the road But as their childhood is celebrated, the freedoms their parents have given them have also compromised their innocence In time, their world starts to collapse The parents split Puberty hits The children are mortified by what they know and have seen They long for structure, normalcy, restraint the very things their parents have avoided Haunting and celebratory by turns, Flower Children is at once a portrait of childhood s unbridled joy and the story of a unique generation Ann Patchett recently selected another excerpt of the novel to appear in the 2006 Best American Short Stories.
Flower Children Maxine Swann

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One thought on “Flower Children

  1. Sarah

    Here s a pet peeve I have about books when bland, sparse writing is misinterpreted by reviewers as lucid and touching or stunning and wistful I think simple, bare bones writing can be absolutely beautiful and moving let s think about Annie Dillard or Ernest Hemingway but I also think that minimalism is an easy trick some writers use to make us think that they ve put a lot of work into something Sure, Annie Dillard tends to write thin, spare books, but she puts love into each and every sentence a [...]

  2. Jenifer

    I was looking so forward to reading this book but it was a major letdown I wanted to feel the hippie spirit when I read this book and really escape to a this simple time where free love and open thinking ruled a family Instead, I was met with a rather boring tale of a sister relating snippets of her childhood that didn t seem too far from normal There was little hippie behavior actually described in the story The Dad farts in the car and that is supposed to represent the life of a bohemian Wow R [...]

  3. Alexandra

    i read this back when it first came out and for the longest time recently i d been trying to figure out what the title was i only remembered a few little snippets and it took nearly a year to figure out that it was this one that i was thinking of.i really loved it it s about the mysteries of childhood, and growing up with hippies for parents in a time when it wasn t cool any lu, maeve, tuck and clyde live primarily with their mother in rural pennsylvania in a house with four stories and dirt flo [...]

  4. Lauren

    I highly recommend Maxine Swann s Flower Children It s a very quick read less a novel than interlocking short stories about children raised by hippie parents The narrative voice ranges from chapter to chapter from the plural we to a third person narrator to the voice of one of the daughters, and though this kind of transition usually bugs me, it works here The book follows the children through adolescence each chapter lights on an event or a significant moment Swann has an elegant spare style th [...]

  5. Katy

    I read a review of this book in the NY Times and thought oh boy the kind of book I like about funny, quirky families No It turned out to be about a weird, not at all funny family It s based on the author s experience growing up, and sheesh, I m glad I m not her It s short, so I made myself finish it in hopes that it would grow on me, but alas, I disliked it to the last word And speaking of words offense to the author, but yeeks the writing was bad Like the paper I wrote the morning it was due fo [...]

  6. Shelly

    I was expecting something different from this novel It s really a collection of short stories about a group of siblings who have a bit of freedom to explore and live in a rural area, but that s true of many children who wouldn t be called flower children Apparently the first chapter or story was published on its own If the rest of the book had been like that chapter and the last, both of which I liked the most , I probably would have given this book 4 or 5 stars It was good, for what it was It [...]

  7. Catherine

    I found this odd little book while wandering the fiction stacks Written very simply and often in 1st person plural POV, it s a novel based on the author s childhood So, it s basically a memoir, but I m assuming she took some poetic license with events and changed all the names For instance, some of the chapters are written in 1st person singular from the perspective of Maeve, which I m assuming is a substitution for Maxine In the beginning, the children live a carefree life with their blueblood [...]

  8. Kate

    I really enjoyed the descriptive writing I was disappointed by the plot which never really went anywhere It starts out with a wonderful description of little hippie children running around in a natural setting with no rules As they grew up, the plot never really took them through any transformations A fast enjoyable read none the less.

  9. Beth Maddaus

    This book was probably the worst book that I ve read in years I bought it after reading a New York Times article about Argentina by Maxine Swan and thought that because I enjoyed the article, her writing might appeal to me It didn t Don t waste your money or time on this one.

  10. Pamela

    Coming of age of four children from a hippie family, In this case, I think hippie is code for dysfunctional Not particularly compelling, except for a beautiful final chapter about the process of growing up, universally experienced.

  11. Maia

    I ve just gotten 5 big boxes of books from the old house and it s thrilling to discover so many of the ones I loved reading then but Flower Children just isn t one of them I remember I received it as a pre pub from friends in publishing, and I d tried to feel the writing without impact from the hype around it, but it was near impossible Maxine Swann is actually a pretty good writer and her other book, Serious Girls, struck me as better than this one, but overall the problem here is that to me sh [...]

  12. Beth

    I was intrigued by the cover of this book I grew up during the same era, and the picture of the children playing in 70 s attire took me back to my childhood This is a fictionalized account of Swann s childhood growing up with two Harvard educated hippies as parents She and her siblings had no discipline, no rules Their parents grew pot underneath the kitchen sink A swing hung from the ceiling The story follows the four children from early childhood through the middle school years as they begin t [...]

  13. AP

    Some of Swann s writing is really beautiful, but some of it seems deliberately quaint or opaque I bought the book very excitedly and even gave a copy as a gift, because I read the short story Flower Children that starts the novel in stories what is that in 1997 and was still thinking about it 10 years later I think that FC is the best story in the book, and part of what contributes to the weakness of the other stories is the extent to which the seem drawn out of FC, attempts to fill up a marketa [...]

  14. Adele

    I got the creepiest sense of deja vu when reading a particular chapter of this book, before I realized I d read the section before, in the 2006 edition of Best American Short Stories This book is little, and I read it over the course of two days, which can be very nice once in a while It s about a family of four children, two boys and two girls growing up hippie style in the hills of Pennsylvania I really like Swann s style of prose, which is that of a preternaturally wise child Her descriptions [...]

  15. Jill Christie

    Thanks to Betsy and Heather, I picked this book for my Book Club Overall consensus was that it was enjoyable, but should have been a short story I thought it was well written and provided an entertaining glimpse into the strange lives of the hippy culture The last chapter, when Maeve and her siblings returned to their childhood home as adults, was so beautifully written and poignant I was only sorry I wasn t reading it in the privacy of my own home lots of tears amongst strangers in the waiting [...]

  16. d Kate dooley

    Flower Children goes on the shelf next to Nancy Peacock s Life Without Water I loved this book It s the kind of story that doesn t follow any formula, just as life doesn t.

  17. Marie

    This short, purportedly semi autobiographical novel in stories is about four siblings brought up by Harvard educated hippies in rural Pennsylvania, 1970 1980s Points of view change from chapter to chapter Third person narratives, speaking at first of the four children as an amorphous grouping, later picking them out as individuals though some than others , are interspersed with chapters in first person by the second child, Maeve The children live with their mother on the farm, spending some wee [...]

  18. Debby Author

    2.5 stars This was a hard one for me because I so wanted to like it However, it seemed like a short story that had just been lengthened to sell as a novel The writing was lyrical but the story didn t go anywhere It felt sparse just for the sake of being artsy.

  19. Stephanie

    I was expecting something similar to The Glass Castle or The Astor Orphan but I was disappointed The writing was disjointed, and the story never really drew me in.

  20. YoSafBridg

    Lu, Mauve, Tuck, and Clyde are children who live in a world all their own a world of free love and free play and free questions and free answers created by their hippy dippy bohemian parents who want to hold nothing back from them Flower Children by Maxine Swann is a novel told in separate short stories, something akin to Moral Disorder Other Stories by Margaret Atwood or one of my all time favorites Rhoda a life in stories by Ellen Gilchrist but Flower Children is entirely unique to itself, une [...]

  21. Amelia

    Good Reads Review Flower Childrenby Amelia ThomasAs children, they run in the meadows, they catch butterflies, they wade shoulder deep into mud puddles, they wait fervently for their father s visits, they watch their baby sitter smoke pot out of a hookah, and they forever dream As teenagers, they have their first kisses, they smoke cigarettes, they wonder at all they know about sex and bodies, they devote themselves to their school work, and they continue to dream.This is they picture Maxine Swa [...]

  22. K.M. Soehnlein

    I ve been a raving fan of Flower Children, the title story of this collection, since I first read it in the Best American anthology years ago It uses an uncommon third person plural narrator They re free to run anywhere they like whenever they like, so they do They spend their whole life in trees to depict the wild, idyllic, pastoral childhood of a group of siblings born to hippie parents In that story Maxine Swann captures the magic of a moment of time that will not last, though its influence w [...]

  23. Helen

    It happens to all library users sooner or later A book, for reasons unknown, appears on your hold shelf and you have no idea when or why you requested it This time it was Flower Children by Maxine Swann, and while I have no recollection of requesting it, I m glad I did.Told in short story format by the children of devout hippies, Flower Children offers a glimpse into a culture where children are raised without limits and adults show little restraint Interestingly, the children know they have bee [...]

  24. Shonna Froebel

    This novel follows the maturing of four children growing up in rural Pennsylvania with parents that can best be defined as hippies The parents divorce when the children are quite young and the story moves back and forth between living with the mother, and her various boyfriends, in the countryside, and visiting the father, and his various girlfriends elsewhere It takes into account the grandparents on the father s side, also somewhat of a hippie nature, with many people coming and going, no focu [...]

  25. Elizabeth Lee

    I have a real problem with this book being called fiction There is no secret that this is based on her family the author uses pseudonyms for herself and her siblings that are barely disguised alterations of their real names It is clearly a book of stories about her own childhood and about real people, and yet the copyright page flatly denies this This is a work of fiction Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author s imagination or used fictitiously and any resem [...]

  26. Lori

    I was wandering thru the library waiting for my girls to finish choosing their books they are too picky I will read ANYTHING , and I was in the children s section, and saw the newly purchased books This book was there and I said to Kelsey, you should read this She glanced at it, nah, not my type So, I decided to read it myself After all, the blurb on the back cover says it is a story about children of hippies growing up in the 70 s and 80 s, and I am a child of the 70 s and 80 s, however, my par [...]

  27. Dale Houstman

    I volunteer in a local library, and came upon this book as I was organizing the shelves one day As a child of the 60s I am usually intrigued by books about the era, although they are usually non fiction accounts The idea of this book the story of being brought up in a hippie family as told from the viewpoint of the children, struck me as worth a look So I looked I must say I was disappointed, as it reaffirmed many of my opinions of modern fiction wan descriptions, a lack of concrete events, a ra [...]

  28. Chris

    I love hearing the stories of hippie kids who have grown up, how they look back on how they grew up and what it was like to have such freedom without boundaries This is written as if it s a memoir, in the first person and the writing reminded me at times of a lot of personal zines I have read where you feel like the writer is talking to YOU, and telling YOU intimate details about their life, and yet in reading those zines, and this book I find myself wondering are you really telling ME YOUR secr [...]

  29. Melanie

    Not a novel, but a small collection of related short stories I do wish it had been billed as such, because there is a difference in reader expectations when starting a novel versus a novel that is a collection of linked individual stories Not only the POV but also the style of each story is different except for the first and last stories, which mirror each other which further breaks up the cohesiveness one expects from a novel It felt as if the author had a set of characters she was interested i [...]

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