Sunflowers in February – Phyllida Shrimpton

*I received a copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for a review.*

Sometimes when browsing NetGalley you see a book which looks like it’ll be right up your alley. That was the case with Sunflowers in February for me. I loved If I Stay and Before I Fall, as well as Before I Die, so apparently I have a morbid streak that likes stories about teenagers, dead or dying. Therefore Sunflowers in February, which tells the story of Lily and the aftermath of her sudden death in a road accident, looked like it would be perfect for me.

Sunflowers in February – Phyllida Shrimpton

36528065Lily wakes up one crisp Sunday morning on the side of the road. She has no idea how she got there. It is all very peaceful. and very beautiful. It is only when the police car, and then the ambulance arrive, and she sees her own body, that she realises that she is in fact… dead. But what is she supposed do now? Lily has no option but to follow her body and see her family – her parents and her twin brother start falling apart. And then her twin brother Ben gives her a once in a deathtime opportunity – to use his own body for a while. But will Lily give Ben his body back? She is beginning to have a rather good time…

A moving, startlingly funny yet achingly sad debut novel from a stunning new talent.

I really, really thought I was going to like this book. On the face of it, it was everything that I like. But it did not work for me at all.

I’m not sure what it was that didn’t work for me. It might have been the close-knit nature of the action – that Lily’s family and the driver are so closely intertwined that I felt it totally unlikely. It might have been that Lily seems to have no regard for her brother’s life, riding roughshod over his decisions to ‘do a good thing’ and make his life better. It might even have been that I can’t imagine anybody would believe that the teenage boy in front of them was actually his dead twin sister, much less as quickly as the characters in this book did.

Whatever it was, this book just didn’t click with me. I don’t think it was the author’s fault though. This isn’t a bad book. It’s got some lovely themes, some profound moments, and a great understanding of the difficulty of sudden death, especially in teenagers.

I don’t know what it was at all, but this book really didn’t work for me. For that reason, and that reason only, my rating is quite low. It’s not a reflection on the quality of the book, but rather my reaction to it.

But, sadly, for me, this wasn’t a winner at all.

Two Stars
**

Sunflowers in February publishes today, incidentally, so should be available in all good bookshops and online.

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