Wallflower, a novel by Holly-Jane Rahlens. Now, this may not be surprising since one of Rahlens' previous books was made into the movie, Max Minsky and Me. But this feeling is also the sign of an exceptional writer, someone who can conjure up images in your mind with her words, as if you’re watching a movie.
Wallflower is the story of Molly, an American teenager living with her father in Germany for a year. Molly sees herself as an outsider -- a “wallflower” -- and has just made the decision to return to New York to live with her grown sister. Molly is also dealing with the devastating loss of her beloved mother to cancer. Before returning, though, Molly has made it her mission to travel to her mother’s birthplace in East Germany and chisel off a piece of the wall surrounding the property to place on her mother’s grave. It is the year 1989, and the Wall dividing East and West Germany has just fallen. It’s a time of great change and excitement in Germany, and people are aware that they are partaking in an event of huge historical significance. That feeling permeates the air as Molly embarks on her journey on the subway.
Also riding the train is an East German man who’s just a few years older than Molly. Mick and Molly feel drawn to each other, despite their very different upbringings. As they get to know each other, they forge a bond that feels palpable and real. The author’s depiction of life in 1989 Germany also feels astonishingly realistic. You can almost smell the decay and see the sterility of East Germany through the eyes of the Westerners who are seeing it for the first time. I felt as if I was actually riding the subway with Mick and Molly and walking the streets of a place that had been closed off from the world for so long.
Wallflower is an absorbing story of two people who are trying to figure out who they are and a fascinating look at the dawning of a new era in Germany. I look forward to reading more of Holly-Jane Rahlens’ work. I highly recommend Wallflower.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate my candid review. No financial compensation was provided. The Amazon links in this post are my affiliate links.