Lily wakes one morning to find herself at the side of a road. She has no idea how she got there or why she doesn't feel cold. The last thing she remembers was getting off the bus early and walking the rest of the way home. Now a disembodied ghost, Lily has to witness the aftermath of her death from a hit-and-run, helpless to comfort her grieving family as she is pulled from one to another by the strength of their thoughts about her.
With no idea how to alter her state of being, Lily starts to despair until one night her strong twin bond with her brother, Ben, at last allows him to see her- and offer her a chance to return to the land of the living. Knowing who killed her, it also offers the chance for revenge.
'Sunflowers in February' is a powerful book, dealing with the grief and anger following a senseless death and the wide reaching impact this has on those left behind. The pain felt by each is vividly and sensitively portrayed as is the way in which her family slowly falls apart as they each try to cope with Lily's death.
Lily is not a very sympathetic character. Selfish and thoughtless, she delights in being the centre of attention at her funeral (wishing she were alive to enjoy it more) and thinks nothing of putting her needs above those of even her twin. However, she matures considerably over the course of the novel, coming to value her family and friends more. Initially bent on revenge, Lily (with the help of her twin) comes to understand the need for forgiveness before she can move on and leave life behind.
The novel celebrates the joy of life and living, the importance of taking the time to enjoy the smallest things in life as well as showing those around us how much we care for them whilst we have the chance.
Sunflowers in February Phyllida Shrimpton
Hot Key Books ISBN: 978-1471406881