[REVIEW] Call me Sunflower by Miriam Spitzer Franklin

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Title:
Call me Sunflower
Author: Miriam Spitzer Franklin
Pub. Date: May 2nd, 2017
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: MG
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Rating: ★★★.5

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Sunny Beringer hates her first name—her real first name—Sunflower. And she hates that her mom has suddenly left behind her dad, Scott, and uprooted their family miles away from New Jersey to North Carolina just so she can pursue some fancy degree. Sunny has to live with a grandmother she barely knows, and she’s had to leave her beloved cat and all her friends behind. And no one else seems to think anything is wrong.

So she creates “Sunny Beringer’s Totally Awesome Plan for Romance”—a list of sure-fire ways to make her mom and Scott fall madly in love again, including:

Send Mom flowers from a “Secret Admirer” to make Scott jealous and make him regret letting them move so far away.
Make a playlist of Scott’s favorite love songs—the mushier the better—and make sure it’s always playing in the car.
Ask them about the good old days when they first fell in love.
But while working on a photo album guaranteed to make Mom change her mind and rush them right back home, Sunny discovers a photo—one that changes everything.

Sunny’s family, the people she thought she could trust most in the world, have been keeping an enormous secret from her. And she’ll have to reconcile her family’s past and present, or she’ll lose everything about their future.

MY REVIEW

      Call me Sunflower is an achingly realistic tale about new beginnings, the struggle of making new friends, and how young children deal with the possibility of their parents splitting. Sunflower struggles with so much and she makes a lot of mistakes in her journey to understand everything. This is truly an inspiring tale.

Sunflower is eleven and already she has to move somewhere new without her father. New home, new school, new people. They have to leave her dad behind and she can’t fathom why. Hurt and angered over it, she makes a plan and lists all the possible ways she could make her parents fall in love with each other again. As immersed in the project as she is, she still has to go to school and juggle classes, new friends, and how to act around others. She was never before mean to someone, and suddenly she finds that she hasn’t stood up for the one girl who is nice to her, and she sticks with people who ignore her. She grows a lot and learns to accept herself and thus be herself around others no matter what.

One thing I love about this book, while more of a sub plot than anything, is the views on animal rights and vegan diets. We get to see opposing views for each though neither are really touched upon. It gives the book more diversity and makes it that much more real. The author presents protests and how the owner reacts, as well as news coverage and consequences. Written without the gritty, raw details, the author still manages to make it seem just as important. We don’t need to see images of animals being killed to understand that this is an issue that is obviously important.

Another inspiring portion of this book is friendship. Sunflower’s parents are best friends and through everything, they remain close. They raised two girls together, survived loss and pain together, and have maintained a healthy relationship even when so much distance is between them. Sunflower and her best friend are now separated, but they constantly keeping contact and even when Sunny ignores her for a while, they work through things and stick together. The bonds are a powerful force that keeps you reading.

What bothered me however, is that Sunny acts out in such harsh, selfish ways. She does it many times and never truly learns her lesson. She blames her mother for everything and feels as if that is a reason for everything Sunny is doing. It was hard to stay immersed in the story when the main character bothered me so much.

Overall, Call me Sunflower is a journey of heartache, anger, and learning from one’s mistakes.

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