A digital version of Fling! is available on Amazon’s Kindle www.amazon.com/Fling-Lily-Iona-Mackenzie-ebook/dp/B0145ZXZG6
and Barnes & Noble Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fling-lily-iona-mackenzie/1121961570?ean=2940150890992
Pen-L Publishing produced my novel Fling! in July 2015. A wildly comic romp on mothers, daughters, art, travel and death, the book should appeal to a broad range of readers. While the main characters are middle-aged and older, their zest for life would draw readers of all ages, male or female, attracting the youthful adventurer in most people. Though women may identify more readily with Feather and Bubbles’ daughter and mother struggles, the heart of the book is how they approach their aging selves and are open to new experiences. Since art and imagination are key to this narrative, artists of all ages would find something to enjoy. And because the book crosses many borders (Scotland, Canada, the U.S., and Mexico), it also can’t be limited to a specific age group, social class, gender, or region.
Youtube video of my reading at Book Passage, Corte Madera, 9/3/15:
Youtube videos of Christina Lake, B.C., book launch on 8/8/15:
My first fan letter for Fling! came from an 80 year-old woman who lives in the tiny village of Christina Lake, B.C. My son, who also lives there, had given her my manuscript to read. She said, “I just wanted to express to you how very much I enjoyed your writing. I started it and didn’t stop till I had read it all. I very much like your style and your subtle humor. Thank you for a most enjoyable read. I can’t understand why it hasn’t been scooped up by some publisher. But I know that it will be. In my estimation I know that it is excellent literary work. I am a voracious reader and have been since grade 4. I remember my first book was Tom Sawyer and I have never stopped since then. I go through 4 to 5 books a week. We are so fortunate here at the Lake now. The Library staff in Grand Forks come out here every Wednesday. I have become very fond of the young lady who comes out. She provides me with all the award winning books and orders others for me. Again I want to express to you how very much I enjoyed your manuscript. Have patience my dear….it will be published to wide acclaim I am so sure.” —Joan Fornelli.
Here is the synopsis of Fling!:
Feather, an aging hippie, returns to her Calgary home to help her mother, Bubbles, celebrate her 90th birthday. Bubbles has received mail from the dead letter office in Mexico City, asking her to pick up her mother’s ashes, left there seventy years earlier and only now surfacing. Bubbles’ mother, Scottish by birth, had died in Mexico in the late 1920s after taking off with a married man and abandoning her husband and kids.
A woman with a mission, and still vigorous, Bubbles convinces a reluctant Feather to take her to Mexico so she can recover the ashes and give her mother a proper burial. Both women have recently shed husbands and have a secondary agenda: they’d like a little action. And they get it.
Alternating narratives weave together Feather and Bubbles’ odyssey with their colorful Scottish ancestors, creating a family tapestry. The “now” thread presents the two women as they travel south from Canada to San Francisco and then Mexico, covering a span of about six months. “Now” and “then” merge in Mexico when Bubbles’ long-dead mother, grandmother, and grandfather turn up, enlivening the narrative with their antics.
In Mexico, the land where reality and magic co-exist, Feather gets a new sense of her mother. The Indian villagers mistake Bubbles for a well-known rain goddess, praying for her to bring rain so their land will thrive again. Feather, who’s been seeking “The Goddess” for years, eventually realizes what she’s overlooked.
Meanwhile, Bubbles’ quest for her mother’s ashes (and a new man) has increased her zest for life. A shrewd business woman (she’s raised chickens, sold her crafts, taken in bizarre boarders, and has a sure-fire system for winning at bingo and lotteries), she’s certain she’s found the fountain of youth at a mineral springs outside San Miguel de Allende; she’s determined to bottle the water and sell it.
But gambling is her first love, and unlike most women her age, fun-loving Bubbles takes risks, believing she’s immortal. Unlike her daughter, Bubbles doesn’t hold back in any way, eating heartily, lusting after strangers, her youthful spirit and innocence convincing readers that they’ve found the fountain of youth themselves in this character. At ninety, she comes into her own, coming to age, proving it’s never too late to fulfill one’s dreams.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR FLING!
Try to answer these questions by using examples from Fling!
- How is magic (or supernatural elements) introduced in the novel?
- What is its role in the narrative?
- What kind of reading agreement has to be established between the author and the reader in order for the magical elements to work?
- Do the magical realist devices disrupt the logic of the story or enhance it?
- What specific things give this novel a magical quality?
- Which character or characters do you identify with the most?
- How does each character (Bubbles and Feather) reveal herself over the course of the novel. At what point do your sympathies begin to change (if they do)?
- What role does death have in this book?
- Does Fling! remind you of any other works you’ve read?
- How did this novel cause you to think differently about mother/daughter relationships or family dynamics?
- How does the use of time in Fling! contribute to its magical qualities?
- What do you think are the novel’s main themes?
- What role does “the goddess” play in Fling!?
- In what ways does Bubbles seem mythic or ageless? (not mythic in the sense of implausible)
- How do the characters in Fling! subvert the stereotypes of older adults?
- What role does the setting have in Fling!?
- How would you describe the difference between Heather, Annie, Bubbles, and Feather?
- What role do the men play in this novel?
- How does Feather get educated about her mother (Bubbles)?
- Would you classify Fling! as a coming-of-age novel? Why or why not?
- Did anything surprise you in Fling!? Did you learn something new about being human?
READERS’ REVIEWS OF FLING!
Here is the first review I’ve had of the audio version of Fling! narrated by Anna Crowe:
By Shanna Tidwell on September 11, 2016
I was constantly telling people about this book while I was listening to it. I adored it! I haven’t read Water for Chocolate since the early 90’s but this book reminded me of it in many ways. It’s magical & fantastical!
Heather, Bubbles & Feather are 3 distinct characters who can also blend as one. The story telling of these characters was some of the best parts. The past & present blended well. You could visualize the time periods. I simply loved this book!
This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of Audiobook Boom.
Fling! by Lily Iona Mackenzie
October 21, 2015
When I first agreed to review Fling! I was somewhat skeptical. All I knew about Lily Iona Mackenzie’s novel came from the title and a brief summary and, based on that, I expected a vaguely smutty beach read. I have never been a particular fan of the romance genre and the idea of a ninety year old woman even being interested in sex, let along looking for a fling in Mexico as the premise of Fling! goes, struck my cynical twenty-three year old self as improbable.
When I received my copy, however, I began to consider the various manifestations and definitions of the word “fling” and to suspect that the novel was about much more than some fleeting May-December romance. In her preface, Mackenzie offers the following definitions for her title:
1. a brief period of indulging one’s impulses
2. a usually brief attempt or effort
3. a brief sexual or romantic relationship
4. a Scottish Highland dance
5. a novel by Lily Iona Mackenzie
I was sold before I even turned the first page. No more than twenty pages in, I struggled to put it down, drawn in by the brief interlacing point of view chapters that leap chronologically and geographically between Scotland, Canada, and Mexico. To say that I was pleasantly surprised by Mackenzie’s charmingly offbeat novel would be an inexcusable understatement. Captivated by the surreal plot, eccentric yet relatable characters, and simple but vivid language, I quickly confirmed my suspicion that Fling! was about far than just a fling (which, in the age of Tinder, has taken on something of an unsavory connotation). With all the lighthearted fun of a fling, this novel also explores the importance of restoring fractured familial relationships, coming to terms with mortality and transience, and maintaining a certain joie de vivre no matter what your age or circumstances.
All of this takes place in the exuberant heart of Mexico, where reality and magic, the dead and the living commingle to fantastic effect. The stars of the story are ninety year old Bubbles, who amazes everyone with her vivacity and apparently limitless zest for life, and her middle aged hippie daughter Feather, who feels a little overshadowed by Bubbles and struggles with lingering resentment toward her mother from adolescence. When Bubbles receives news that her mother’s ashes have been found in Mexico City after being lost for seventy years, she convinces Feather—who was planning to take a solo art sabbatical in Mexico—to bring her along and make a stop in Mexico City to retrieve the ashes. Once in Mexico City, the two women deviate considerably from both their itinerary and normal way of being. The story takes a turn for the magical as Heather, Bubble’s mother, comes to life—like instant milk—after Bubbles adds water to her ashes. Heather’s long deceased parents—Anne and Malcolm, Bubble’s grandparents and Feather’s great-grandparents—appear shortly after, and the Scottish brood, reunited in Mexico, stays for the trip of their life/afterlife.
The narrative reaches the first of several phantasmagoric climaxes when a local tribe mistakes Bubbles for fertility god Eineeuq and kidnaps her a few days of festivity and worship. Bubbles, thrilled, soaks in the adoration and celebration she has always lived and yearned for with signature gusto. It’s a definite high point in the narrative but the story is far from over. Heather, cautious and somewhat repressed and resentful, experiences a personal renaissance through a fling with a sexy, soulful shaman. Through serendipitous human connection, the rejuvenating power of sex, and just a touch of magic, Heather sheds old neuroses and embraces a more joyful view of herself, the world, and her lovable but flawed mother. I’ll save some of the surprises Mackenzie still has in store for you but rest assured that the rest of the narrative, just as life-affirming and magical—without being saccharine—as the preceding pages, is a fitting denouement to the wild ride she has taken us on thus far.
The only lingering critique I have of Fling! is perhaps its title and the transience it so strongly implies. While the novel is full of rollicking flings and short bursts of mini-climaxes, the healing effects of Bubbles’ and Feather’s experiences are clearly long-lasting. Indeed, the novel seems to resolve (or come close to resolving) some of the most age-old tensions between eternity and transience, life and death. While the experience of reading Fling! for the first time was a fleeting one (as all our experiences are), its lessons and magic have stayed with me and will continue to do so as with all of our more meaningful flings.
When I first read the description of Fling! by Lily Iona MacKenzie, I was eager to start reading. I’m a sucker for complicated mother-daughter relationships and, at its heart, this is the story of sixty-year-old Feather and her ninety-year-old mother, Bubbles. Struggling under the weight of past disappointments and betrayals, their relationship is loving, but strained. When Bubbles pressures her daughter into a quest to recover her mother’s missing ashes in Mexico City, the duo sets out on an adventure that seems ill-fated. Then a few dead ancestors join the party, highlighting the rampant misunderstandings, missed opportunities, lost loves, betrayals and petty jealousies of the past. In this story, the sins of the parents continue to echo through the generations in fascinating patterns.
Fling! takes the reader on a magical journey from Scotland to Canada to Mexico. One part fictional memoir encompassing nearly a decade of living, one part portrait of a strained yet matured mother-daughter relationship and one part fantasy, Fling! is anything but your mundane read!
Fling!…what I can say about this book??….what the heck did I just read??!!..and I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. First word that comes to mind “Quirky”….that’s the word that I have been using to describe this book to anyone who asks me what the book is about. Before I continue let me first give a big thanks to the powers-that-be over at LibraryThing to whom I won this book from and to the talented Lily Iona Mackenzie who wrote this “Quirky” book.
The story is about a weed smoking middle aged hippish woman by the name of Feather and her totally eccentric free spirited 90 year old mother Bubbles who still has a ton of life left in her. Yes, Feather and Bubbles. Like their names, they are quite the characters. I was captivated with them from start and that feeling never went away as I reached it’s end. I am done with the book and they are with me still. They are hilarious in their quarreling banter, their relationship is so relating to the relationships that many mothers and adult daughters have with one another in the real world and it is spun in that realistically comical way…but this is not just comedic..there is depth to this story and to their lives throughout the book. Feather deals with her childhood abandonment by Bubbles, the same abandonment issues that Bubbles struggled to deal with when it came to her own mother..always trying to escape a doomed, mundane, financially struggling life even if it meant leaving behind their children. It’s sad really…quite sad….but right before you are about to shed a tear, you end up with a chuckle. I loved that. So we meet Feather and Bubbles…and now we get to their story. All the way in Canada, Bubbles receives a letter from Mexico, her mother’s last known residence. Her ashes have suddenly been recovered (she was dead years and years ago) and she must claim them. Feather was on her way to that area for a bit of a vacation and inspiration to her life’s work and passion, Art (sculpting). Feather struggles with the idea of traveling from Canada to Mexico with her mother but yadda yadda yadda…we all get there and thankfully so. This is where the story gets even quirkier. The backdrop of a mystical poverty stricken but rich in culture and unity, Mexico is a paradise unlike any other..and during a time where entire villages celebrate the very infamous and very beautiful Dia De Los Muertos. These women were thrust right into the customs of this scary and strange new world. Strange and yet in many ways they fit right in….they belonged. I especially liked that the Author took us back and forth from Bubbles childhood years…growing up in Scotland, to Feather’s life and her struggles throughout her years and right back to Mexico and the characters we encounter there. There are dead relatives ‘revived’ (so to speak) to life, a love affair with an animal turning Shaman, and Indians that worship the rain Goddess Eineeuq all while preparing for the Dia De Los Muertos celebrations!!!….Through death we learn about life…with that wee get mysticism, fantasy, and magic but wrapped into a very real world way….and that’s about all you are gonna get from me.
I think I am going to share this book with my own eccentric mother…only because I know how to make sure I get my book back from the lady. But for everyone else in my life my greed is too strong so I am going to recommend they go out and buy the book. It’s worth it!!!
on September 20, 2015
The deep richness of Lily McKenzie’s Fling derives in large part from the many levels on which it operates. On the most obvious level, McKenzie offers us a wonderful story of a mother and daughter’s many vacation adventures in Mexico, fleshed out with all the colors, sounds, and smells of the vacation landscape. But the author delves into a deeper psychological level, which drives the plot, exploring the legacy of abandonment—its effects on three generations of women and how each adapts to its painful aftermath. And, unlike chronological time, psychological time, which moves freely among the poles of past and present propels the vivid flashbacks judiciously interspersed throughout the novel to further illuminate the characters’ back stories. Last, but surely not least, the novel resonates on a mythical level—a quest toward redemption, which mother and daughter seek through the course of their adventures. Here, the plot elements turn in increasingly unexpected ways, employing elements of Magical Realism with delightful flourish. I found Fling to be not only a real page-turner, but also a thought-provoking piece of literary fiction.
Now if NAFTA were like this: Fling, a North American romp through the two northern neighbors to get to the promised land
on August 12, 2015
Starting in the Isle of Skye in Scotland, Lily Iona MacKenzie’s Fling! takes the reader on physical and metaphysical journeys through the Canadian prairies to San Francisco to several locales in Mexico. As seen through the eyes of her main characters, sixty-year-old Feather and her ninety-year-old mother, Bubbles, Fling! is a blend of Alice Munro-like plot twists and Latin American magical realism. It’s an unpredictable ride as the two main characters find their way toward being more generous with each other and themselves.
on October 1, 2015
This is a story of abandonment and reconciliation, of several generations of mothers and daughters whose emigration to Canada from Scotland produces deep cultural reverberations and connections, not, after all, with Canada, but with a country far to the south where forgiveness and understanding can finally occur. The writer clearly has fun with characters and plot and a central mother figure whose life choices and escapades both charm and frustrate her daughter. If only real life could resolve the tangle of family relationships so joyfully!
By Roberta Seifert on October 3, 2015
What a romp of a book! How can you resist a novel with prose like this? “It’s too confusing. How in hell did she get into this mess—abandoned somewhere in Mexico, stripped of her identity, shadowed by a singing raven, attacked by mice, hiding out from the cops, smitten with a man she doesn’t know who has become an animal. What next?”
Mackenzie combines great story-telling, magical realism, and romance into remarkable blend that spans continents, centuries, and sensibilities with irony and irreverence for all.
Fling! Sticks with you
By Solace Wales on October 2, 2015
Though it’s been several months since I read Lily Mackenzie’s Fling!, it’s easy to talk about because it’s a book that sticks with you. The humor and absolute zaniness of it keep you chuckling over time. And the underlying seriousness of the theme of accepting and coming to appreciate members of other generations of one’s family –this stays with you too.
In Fling! the forbearers are mainly women on the maternal side of of 57 year old Feather, an artist. In the mid 1990s, Feather, who continues to maintain her 1960s hippie demeanor and sloppy dress despite going gray and being decades out of style, has a lot to accept in her outlandish mother, Bubbles, age 90. At first glance Bubbles appears to be another little old lady who knits, only she sporadically acts in ways her daughter finds unseemly for her age or downright crazy. And Bubbles too is often disenchanted with her daughter’s inexplicable artsy ways and apparent lack of interest in appearance.
But these two come to understand and appreciate one another with the help of the revived dead (Bubbles’ mother and her grandparents) and a delightful mix of magic. — Ordinary things, like chickens and lipstick and beer, are essential to the understanding too. In Fling! even the dead protagonists gain insight about the following generations — so it works going forward as well as backward that each woman is celebrated for her relatedness to the family, yes, but above all for her uniqueness.
The fantasy aspect of the book is built on a well flushed out picture of the reality of the difficult lives the previous generations have confronted on the Isle of Skye in Scotland and later in Calgary, Canada. The Isle of Skye scenes at the beginning of the book foreshadow the mythical nature in the line of ladies which emerges later, but this nature finds no outlet when the family must live in Canada. The initial dreariness the women experience in the new world (except for Feather’s escape to hippy San Francisco) contrasts well with their wild liberation when they go south to Mexico. There colors, odors, sexuality, Mexican mysticism and goddess worship burst open barriers and the collision prompts an inter-generational dance not to be missed. These ladies, hilarious and serious, will stay with you.
Suddenly colors, odors, sexuality and spirituality converge and the surprising intergenerational dance this collision prompts is not to be missed.
Add into this mix, Mexican mysticism, transcendence and goddess worship and the book explodes with fiesta life, full participation in the dance of life and full recognition –which inevitably creates laughter in both the book’s and the reader.
In the changing settings from the ancestral homestead on the Isle of Skye in Scotland to Calgary in Canada to the San Francisco Bay Area and finally to transformative Mexico, the reader comes to understand what shaped the protagonists’ character. But this shaping is superceded by the unique spirit each person in the book possesses, and it is this which finally gets recognized in the other generations. The book doesn’t just deal with the previous and the succeeding generation as represented by Bubbles and her daughter, but Bubbles’ parents join in the fray with their own world views and their own unique qualities played out in another era.
Fling! is a delightful piece of magical realism that will be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone who loves this often overlooked subgenre. The main characters are funny, quirky and developed in an engaging way as the novel progresses. I was never bored at any moment while reading this amazing piece by MacKenzie.
I obtained an ARC of this book trough the Member Giveaway at LibraryThing. I would like to thank Lily Iona MacKenzie for providing the copy and for sharing this amusing magical realism story.
Barnes & Noble:
I think most people will enjoy Fling! by Lily Iona Mackenzie because of the character of Bubbles, a 90-year-old who refuses to act her age. Bubbles wants life in all its richness-sex, food, travel. She is still hungry and doesn’t see why she should consider her plate full.
The relationship between Bubbles and her hippie daughter Feather is also appealing. In many ways, these women have a typical mom-daughter relationship, but their quirkiness is all their own.
When the two visit Mexico City to pick up the ashes of Bubbles’ long-dead mother, the story gets even zanier when Bubble’s dead mom and grandparents all make real-life appearances. A fun and unique summer read.
Magic Realism Blog Spot, Zoe Brooks
This fun read is by fellow member of the Magic Realism Facebook group, Lily Iona MacKenzie. The book is a road journey featuring one old woman and her hippy daughter. The dynamic of their relationship is at the heart of the book. The ninety-year old Bubbles is in many ways a child herself and Feather acts as her mother.
As the chapters flick backwards and forwards in time following Bubbles back to her childhood in Skye and Feather to her adolescence, we come to see the roots not only of the two women’s behaviour but also that in some ways the women are not so dissimilar and are following a family pattern. When in the latter part of the novel Bubbles’s mother and grandmother turn up, this family dynamic is expanded and further explored.
Many readers will identify with Feather’s feelings of frustration, resentment and love towards her mother. And many will enjoy the comedy and zaniness of Bubbles and her adventures. There are times when the reader might feel that she too has been smoking some of Feather’s weed. But the novel is more than just a light-hearted read. Of course there is the daughter/mother relationship to consider. But it is also interesting to note the parallels drawn between the Gaelic beliefs of the family’s Scottish roots and those they encounter in Mexico. And what is more there are some delightful references to the magic realist tradition for those if us who care about such things.
One quibble I have with the book is that at times I found the constant moving between the characters and in time, including point of view within scenes, meant that I lost focus. In a way this disorientation reflects the hallucinatory nature of the story, but it did intrude somewhat into my enjoyment.
I received this book free from the author in return for a fair review.
Understory Magazine published this review in Nov. 2015:Fling! by Lily Iona MacKenzie (Pen-L Publishing, 2015)
Fling!, Lily Iona MacKenzie’s debut novel, spans two continents, three generations of Heathers, and multiple layers of reality. In 1906, Heather McGregor is born in the Isle of Skye—or is not born, exactly, but dances off a painting and into a potato patch. Heather grows (more robust than the potatoes), marries a MacDonald, and moves to Calgary. There she gives birth to another Heather, later known as Bubbles, who in turn gives birth to her own Heather, known as Feather. But Heather Number One doesn’t stick around “cold Protestant” Canada for long. She flees with an employer to a wild and mysterious life in Mexico. Many years later, Bubbles, a sprightly ninety when the novel opens, decides she and Feather must follow in Heather’s footsteps—not vanish into Mexico but simply retrieve Heather’s long lost ashes and perhaps discover what tempted her mother to leave family behind forever. Of course, Feather and Bubbles discover much more: sex, drugs, shamans, a very vital statue, and living, dancing long-dead relatives—including Heather, still wild and spry and generous with motherly advice. With a light but practiced hand, MacKenzie weaves the rich traditions of Skye with the myths and magic of Mexico (and a rather modest portrayal of her hometown Calgary) to explore motherhood, the ties that bind generations of women—and perhaps the secret to happiness itself.
ByAmazon Customer on March 9, 2016
Fling! Is one very entertaining book full of adventure of the human spirit. It stretches the bonds of imagination beyond the walls of life and death. She opened doors through time and space that I never knew existed in this world and the next. This is truly a remarkable work by Lily Iona Mackenzie. Making the best out of a situation really is the best of all the gifts of living and being in this world.
ByRajalakshmi Prithviraj on March 4, 2016
Its been a month since I finished reading this book. I knowingly did not post my review back then because it inspired me to do something crazy, which was, planning a surprise party for my mother.
The story is about a mother-daughter duo on a crazy adventure. Reading their story was like living precious moments spent with my mother all over again. The plot brings out the complexities and all possible shades which exist between a mum and her girl.
Lily has a way with words. She has ensured her narrative descriptions emote as much as her characters. Her scenes have a life of their own; it was like reading the story and viewing its movie on a big screen simultaneously. Her sentences are simple even when she expresses a complex idea.
The two protagonists are perfect constrasts, like yin and yang!!! The mother and daughter are absolute opposites, yet together they form a wonderful team. Through them, Lily has also subtly expressed that age is just a figment of one’s mind. One aged 60 and the other aged 90 have actually succeeded in teaching the readers that there is no age bar on living life, exploring, doing things one’s own way, and above all, listening to one’s heart even when the mind fails to reason.
To sum up, this book gave me a reason, or rather an opportunity, to celebrate my relationship with my mum. It will be a keepsake for the rest of my life. In fact, when my daughters grow up, this will be a book I will gift them. It is a must must must read for all mothers and daughters as well all men who love their mothers and daughters.
P.S – Lily, you have helped me bring a smile on my mum’s face through your book. Simply loved it.
ByMyrtis Mixon on January 26, 2016
Fling: That’s what it is… a fast-paced flight to some of my favorite places. As a traveler (80 countries so far), I enjoy the detail MacKenzie includes, especially in Mexico. She takes us on a whimsical inter-generational trip to Mexico, Scotland, San Francisco and Canada with artist/teacher Feather and her wildly-quixotic 90-year-old mother, Bubbles. Then enter the mystical world of the indigenous Mexican people when they adore Bubbles as their long-absent goddess. That is when the real magic starts and Feather gets to know more long-lost relatives.
I won’t tell you more…
ByGlenda on January 25, 2016
A Goddess may take many forms based upon various cultures. But nobody expected Bubbles, a 90-year-old Canadian woman traveling with her daughter, to be mistaken for one…Especially when the small town people crowded around her, seeking her blessing for rain!
Perhaps because I’ve traveled quite a bit in my life and am quite happy to stay at home these days, I couldn’t image thinking about traveling to Mexico at the age of 90! Of course, I also couldn’t imagine that my own mother’s ashes had been lost for many years–in the dead-letter bin–and the government of Mexico was demanding to know when I would be picking her up… Well, let’s just say that I’d quickly figure out I was in a fantasy, LOL! Actually, the umbrella of Women’s fiction was insufficient for me. I had a hard time getting into the story, not knowing where it might go. The front cover includes the statement “A madcap journey of an aging mother and her adult daughter from cold Protestant Canada into the hallucinogenic heart of Mexico’s magic…” Well, magic and hallucinogenic gave me some clues but even while I was reading, I wasn’t sure whether there had been a huge festival, where everybody was drugged and the story evolved from that event… In fact, I went all the way to the ending before the book’s story pieces fell into place… In fact, there is almost too much being said that readers may miss by getting caught by the frivolity of the various scenes. Can we hide serious issues behind humor? Can we learn to forgive what once was totally unforgivable?
Bubbles was born to a mother who had left her when she was young, running off with a man… Bubbles then did the same to Feather. Feather had wound up in a hippie camp where she, among other things, learned to smoke pot and to begin developing her artistic skills as a sculpture. Feather had maintained contact with Bubbles by phone, but rarely saw her. In fact, she was already scheduled to travel to several places in Mexico to study more in support of her future creations.
When Bubbles called her about having to pick up her mother’s ashes in Mexico City, Feather had adapted her trip to accommodate her mother’s traveling with her. What she hadn’t planned on was her mother pouring a cup of water into her grandmother’s urn of ash…and having a woman, about her own age, soon appear as a passenger on the back seat… which is my only clue of what is coming! Bubbles, on the other hand, is thinking about the “possibilities” in Mexico…
There is much to ponder regarding family relationships in this book–about family that has already died and those for whom death may be near. When we are disappointed or hurt by a parent, is there a way to rekindle the love that once existed–before the hurt occurred. Bubbles is 90 and thinks nothing about her possible near death, while her daughter, recognizing her age, is more aware of it, while at the same time, considering what time she has lost in finding her own way…
I identified more with Feather, a serious woman, living her life as she is able, but still cognizant of others in her life–yet knowing that the loss of her mother at a difficult time led her to grow up faster than normal and to resent what she had lost…On the other hand, it is Feather who finds her “Shaman.” I loved this character! He had gone to college to learn about Agriculture to help his own community and then started to learn to become a Shaman to actually care for them. The fact that he had never learned everything he should have been taught allowed for a really funny set of things that constantly happened around him–bits of magic that just happened because he’d not learned how to control his powers. That alone, created a levity for Feather that seemed to change her, becoming more youthful as she fell deeper and deeper in love.
It is the way death was looked at, in the end, that won over my full support for the book. What occurred in the book is pure fantasy–or was it? Who knows, when we reach 90 and head for Mexico, we might also be caught up in the festival where Bubbles’ presence resulted in rain sufficient to save the crops… And, of course, then prepare for the Dia de los Muertos festival…
Do check this one out!