Irises

Title: Irises
Author: Fransisco X. Stork
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine – Scholastic, Inc.
Release Date: January 1, 2012

TWO SISTERS:  Kate is bound for Stanford and an M.D. — if her family will let her go. Mary wants only to stay home and paint. When their loving but repressive father dies, they must figure out how to support themselves and their mother, who is in a permanent vegetative state, and how to get along in all their uneasy sisterhood.
THREE YOUNG MEN: Then three men sway their lives: Kate’s boyfriend Simon offers to marry her, providing much-needed stability. Mary is drawn to Marcos, though she fears his violent past. And Andy tempts Kate with more than romance, recognizing her ambition because it matches his own.
ONE AGONIZING CHOICE:  Kate and Mary each find new possibilities and darknesses in their sudden freedom. But it’s Mama’s life that might divide them for good — the question of if she lives, and what’s worth living for.

It’s amazing what an author can do with an idea. Somehow, they are able to micromanage every detail of a books’ worth of characters – their personalities, character traits, schedules, and more. In this book especially this hit me. The two sisters are dealing with a parent’s death before either of them have even finished high school, with another parent barely alive. The author creates two completely different yet relatable characters that deal with grief and the entire situation in their own way.

I really like how the cover and title are completely relevant to the story and yet it looks so pretty. Its aesthetics are part of what made me pick it up in the first place. The religious aspect of the book really isn’t very religious – it’s more philosophy: what is love, how does someone morally do something, not just simply how does someone be a good Christian, although that’s in there, too. It was interesting to see how other people think about religion and spiritual matters, and I was surprised when some of my own religious doubts were in the text! The things that confused the characters were things that I was confused about in real life – the contradictions – and the ending of the book, how a lot of stuff was figured out, had a lot to do with real-life situations, not just the plot of the story, and is applicable by any ethical reader, not just a Christian.

I really enjoyed how even though there was romance, the focus was on the growth of the characters. Yes, the boyfriends and physical attractions were present, but it was more in a way that allowed the two sisters to grow mentally and emotionally. Another thing I loved about the book was that it reflected real-life because of the ending. The ending was pretty sure – most of the problems had been solved, and things seemed more stable, and both of the characters changed a lot. But it was realistic in the fact that there were still personal problems and healing processes going on. Not everything was perfect, but it was good.

Stork has created a story of hardship, difficult decisions, and pain, but also a world where everything can be worked through if you give it enough time, and fellowship with friends and family goes a long way to building a strong, worthwhile life. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a good, uplifting contemporary.

~Yours Truly

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