Honeyflower And Pansy is the debut novel of Esmé James. The story is billed as a teenage romance, but it is really so very much more. Despite the fact that the story’s author is only 18 years old, Honeyflower And Pansy is an emotional and satisfying read. Perhaps some of the story problems come to a much more satisfying and tidy end then similar problems would in real life, but that is the nature of young adult fiction.
Amanda Daryl is an engaging and proactive character. She is concerned with the welfare of her family, her friends, and her autistic little sister Sage. As such, Amanda takes steps to help each of them with their various predicaments. She helps her friends plan a dance; she helps a drunk reclaim his life and his business; she helps her father raise her little sister Sage; she helps the community get a new school; and she helps the mysterious Tristan with a difficult good-bye.
Sage Daryl is presented very realistically in the story, the triumphs and challenges of being autistic shine with authenticity because Esmé James has an autistic sibling. Clearly writing from her heart, James details the complex communication, fixation, and aversion/avoidance issues that face autistic children and their families, but she does so with a very deft touch, enlightening the reader without detracting from the main story.
Honeyflower And Pansy is a love story, but the primary focus of the story isn’t on Amanda and Tristan’s budding relationship, or on Amanda’s drive to secure a school for autistic children like Sage. This is a love story about love, and how it can change a life, save a soul, and rebuild a community.
I rate this book a 4 on my 1 to 5 scale. It looses one point only because from time to time Ms. James gets so caught up in “writing” that she forgets she is also storytelling. Some of her lovely, lovely prose is actually too artistic, and interferes with comprehension. I suspect several of her words were swept from a Thesaurus and used based on their formal definition rather than their colloquial meaning — or perhaps the occasional stiltedness is merely differing shades of connotation between Australian and American word usages.
Honeyflower And Pansy, by Esmé James is well worth the $2.99 Amazon purchase price. I look forward to more offerings from this talented, young storyteller.
I was given a free copy of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review.