Monday, November 27, 2017

"The Funeral Flower" by Michelle Jester

The Funeral Flower
by Michelle Jester

The Funeral Flower by Michelle Jester

The Funeral Flower by Michelle Jester is currently on tour with YA Bound Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Devastated by the death of her grandfather, six-year-old Kelly Rodgers barely manages to cope with the profound loss. Already facing issues at school, she finds herself spiraling deeper into despair, when a fateful interaction through the fence in her backyard gives her hope. In the years following, Kelly realizes that life’s tragedies can be dealt with through acceptance; until another series of agonizing events leaves her heart in pieces.
Finding herself thrown into new surroundings, Kelly embraces her life and resolves to never fall in love. That decision is easy to keep until her junior year when she is drawn by an unavoidable attraction to the new guy, tormented James Delaney. The moment he looks up at her and smiles, her body betrays her. And he notices. She is determined to avoid him, but soon Kelly is forced to face the inevitable truth: she doesn’t want to avoid James ... and he won’t let her.
Even though tragedy always follows love.
Note: Due to critical subject matter recommended for ages 17+.

Book Video

Chapter 1
All I could do was stare at the frilly, white flower while the tears fell down my face. It was so pretty. I don’t know how there could be something this pretty on the second most awful day of my life. I started to smell it again when I heard my sister’s voice. My finger jumped off the petals just in time for her to grab my arm and start pulling.
“Come on! Sophia said we have to stay with her.”
“I was just looking for Momma and Daddy,” I replied. I couldn’t tell her that I had found them. I couldn’t tell her what I saw.
“Well, we are supposed to be with Sophia. We need to meet some more family,” Audrey replied.
“I don’t want to meet any more people I don’t know. I’m tired.”
“It don’t matter. Just be yourself. People always like you ‘cause you’re nice.” She smiled; but I could see the sadness in her eyes. Audrey knew that would remind me of Pawpaw. He always said how much people liked me. That was Audrey, she always makes me feel better when I am sad. She is my sister and my best friend.
The weird smell that I noticed when we first came in this morning, hit my nose again. It was really gross like my pawpaw’s old shop, but kind of like the metal from his old tractor too. I probably should’ve taken one of those flowers with me. They smelled much better.
Sophia hissed at me through gritted teeth when we made it to her side. “Grace, where have you been?”
“Call her Kelly, Sophia,” Audrey reminded her.
Sophia is my other sister, and even though she is mad most of the time, I think she is the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.
“You are always running off. You are supposed to stay with me,” she barked.
I didn’t have anything to say to that. I don’t really know why I ran off. I think it was to find Daddy. To get a hug. But when I found him that’s not what I got.
“What were you doing anyway?” Audrey looked over at me and whispered.
“Looking at the flowers.”
“Yeah, I know...,” There was that thing in Audrey’s eyes again, “You want
to stay by the casket. But you can’t. You are only supposed to look once.”
I just couldn’t tell her what I saw. I could barely deal with it myself. That’s why I was looking at the flowers. They made me stop crying. They made me feel better, because I just didn’t think I could handle what I saw. It wasn’t the fact that my momma was hugging Daddy, which really was a surprise since they hardly do that. I really don’t think they ever did that before. Like I said, it wasn’t that, what I saw was him do something I’d never seen him do before, I saw my daddy crying.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"Every young woman, or middle aged woman should read this book, it's full of so many emotions, so much to relate to, I loved the read and I cannot wait for the next masterpiece to come out." ~ yvette boyd
"From the first page I was there, by the end of first chapter I was totally engaged and wanted more. This is saying a lot because it takes a lot to keep this ADD guy turning the pages! The plot, characters, and gifted writing kept me engrossed until the end. I also teared up once." ~ R. R. Reader
"I loved the book. It brought back memories of my own pre-teen and teenage years, and the struggles of a young girl trying to grow up. I believe the author captured the innocence and budding womanhood of the heroine, and I am looking forward to her next book, due out next summer. Great job on her first book!" ~ Sherry
"Such a great read. The roller coaster of emotions. Felt like it was me. Can't wait for the next one." ~ Bridget Read
"Beautifully written. Reaches deep into the mind, soul, and heart of the reader. If some part of the reader doesn't heal he/she has missed the beauty therein." ~ Susan F Bolton

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
The Funeral Flower tells Kelly's story from the age of six to twenty. It’s a life of loss and abandonment, starting with the death of her grandfather when she is six years old. After losing touch with her childhood crush, Kelly vows to never fall in love: "I decided, right before my fourteenth birthday, that I would never, ever, ever, fall in love. If you love a boy, you lose them." But then she meets James, and everything changes. Will Kelly finally get her happily-ever-after?
The narrative is interspersed with poems, many of which were written by the author as a child, teenager, and young adult. Much of the story is also based on events in the author’s life. She has included some of her good memories, from the smell of the flowers at her grandfather's funeral, the smell of the Sassafras tree in her backyard, the boy who befriended her through her back fence, and his grandmother who served hot chocolate and cookies on Halloween. As she states in her blog: "For me, Carnations are the good that you find in all the bad. They are fluffy and fragrant. They are frilly and lacey. They are colorful and dynamic. Still ... they are the funeral flower; to some people, they always will be. However, for me, just like root beer, innocent friendships, hot chocolate, and cookies they will always represent the good."
The author also includes some of her bad memories: the death of her grandfather, suicidal thoughts at a very young age, bullying and beatings at school, and the lack of consequences for the perpetrators. Unfortunately, it is these tragic aspects of the book which make the story unbelievable, as they are too numerous, and the author doesn't go into enough detail to make them seem real. Other problems include the stilted conversation and the mixture of past and present tenses, often in the same sentence.
This book addresses a number of serious topics and concludes with resources on several of these, namely suicide, sexual abuse, and bullying.
Warnings: suicide, bullying, sexual assault.

About the Author
I am a hopeless romantic (I think this is the most important thing to know about me). In addition, I live in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana, with my husband and high school sweetheart. Together we have a son and daughter. Throughout my life writing and photography have been my main creative outlets.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a 5-layer scented candle inspired by The Funeral Flower and root beer lip balm.