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FLOWER, by Elizabeth Craft and Shea Olsen, is a debut young adult novel for both authors.

FLOWER follows the life of Charlotte Reed, an overachieving high school student desperately trying to break free from her family’s cycle of teen pregnancy to reach her dream of becoming a doctor. Charlotte watches her older sister struggle with her newborn son and remembers her mom’s struggles raising her as a teenager, knowing she must grasp for something different for herself. Charlotte, hoping to get accepted to Stanford early admission, studies tirelessly to maintain perfect grades, participates in research at a nearby lab, works at a flower shop to save up for college and, above all, avoids boys. Charlotte’s careful strategy of avoiding the opposite sex shatters, however, after Tate Collins, a famous popstar, wanders into the flower shop one night asking for Charlotte’s recommendation for a flower order.

"The prose of the novel flows easily and quickly, and Charlotte’s first-person narration is well done and enjoyable. Readers looking for a romantic novel will enjoy...."

At first, Charlotte fails to recognize Tate’s true identity. Tate’s surprise at Charlotte’s failure to recognize him intrigues him, and he revisits the flower shop several nights in a row, hoping to convince Charlotte to go on a date with him. Charlotte, despite her firm insistence to her best friend, Carlos, that she is uninterested, eventually agrees to go out with Tate, beginning a tumultuous relationship that will change Charlotte’s life forever.

FLOWER lives up to the dreams of many teenage girls. Tate, an elusive, handsome rockstar,  waltzes into the life of nerdy, bookish Charlotte and immediately falls in love with her. However, the character of Tate himself struggles to appeal to the reader. The hints at Tate’s dark, dangerous past do not help make his character’s bad choices regarding his relationship with Charlotte clear, and instead make Tate increasingly unlikeable as the novel continues. Tate’s disregard for Charlotte’s feelings is alarming, and does not necessarily present a healthy relationship for teens to model in their own lives. Tate’s refusal to consider the feelings of Charlotte and her acceptance of this as normal behavior detracts from the sweet moments between the two, and makes the relationship less easy to root for by the end of novel.

Instead, the most enjoyable interactions of the entire novel occur between Carlos and Charlotte, as Carlos is there for Charlotte whenever she needs his friendship. One of the best things about the novel is the realism surrounding the amount of time Charlotte devotes to her schoolwork. Charlotte only has time to go out with Tate on Friday and Saturday nights, which reflects her image as a hardworking student and makes Charlotte’s character more credible. The prose of the novel flows easily and quickly, and Charlotte’s first-person narration is well done and enjoyable. Readers looking for a romantic novel will enjoy watching Charlotte fall in love with Tate, along with the descriptions of the exclusive dates Tate plans for Charlotte.

Reviewed by Janine Chouinard on February 27, 2017

by Elizabeth Craft and Shea Olsen