The Winters in Bloom
We've all met them. Perhaps on some level, we even are them. So-called helicopter parents: the kind who obsess over their offspring's every cough and tumble, who show up at school at the first sign of trouble with a teacher, who hover nervously every time their child is separated from them for even a minute. In THE WINTERS IN BLOOM, author Lisa Tucker --- who considers herself an overprotective parent, too --- explores the complex histories that lead two parents, and their little boy, into a life defined by fear.
"Some readers might find David and Kyra's parenting style absurd; others might find it all too familiar. Chances are, though, that everyone will relate to Tucker's perceptive exploration of how mistakes of the past can find echoes in the present, and how openness, rather than silence and denial, can result in hope and healing."
"He was the only child in a house full of doubt" is how THE WINTERS IN BLOOM opens. Five-year-old Michael doesn't know any different life than the one his parents have given him: a life defined by trips to the pediatrician, by numerous visits by his parents to his school until they pull him out to homeschool him instead. Michael knows that he loves his parents and that they love him, and he doesn't find their love smothering, although he does worry --- just as they do --- about the million things that could be lurking all around them, ready to do him harm. But the nice lady who talks to him as he plays in the family's backyard, who offers to take him for a car ride and on a boat, doesn't seem likely to do him harm. So Michael goes with her --- and no one's life will ever be the same.
When Michael disappears, his parents, Kyra and David, seem more resigned than frightened: "And now he was gone, and somewhere deep inside, they weren't even surprised. Because no matter how many locks they'd installed, the idea that they would lose what they loved best was always lurking around the corner, threatening in whispered memories, as close as the next breath." Both Kyra and David believe, on a fundamental level, that they are individually unworthy to be parents, that they are in some way doomed to failure and to a continuation of the loss and disappointment that have marked their earlier lives, their lives before Michael and before each other.
In the wake of Michael's disappearance, David and Kyra reflect on these past lives, including details that they've never even shared fully with one another. Kyra grew up depending on her confident older sister, Amy. But when Amy became wild and troubled during her college years, Kyra made a choice that resulted in severing what had been the most important relationships in her life.
As for David, he is no stranger to losing a child --- his infant son from a previous marriage died, leaving him bereft, untrusting, and barely willing to try again with Kyra. But now that he has Michael in his life, he is so happy he did --- but also fearful that his unstable ex-wife, Courtney, will somehow find a way to ruin his happiness.
David is convinced that Courtney is the mysterious woman who seized Michael; Kyra is convinced that it's her estranged sister, Amy. As the two reflect on their shared and separate pasts --- and as they finally start to open up to each other about the things they fear the most --- they may, ironically, develop the strength they need to move past fear and into wonder and love.
Lisa Tucker excels at probing family dynamics; in this case, she explores the headline-worthy phenomenon of helicopter parenting by looking at the very personal and individual situations that can result in that kind of fear and over-protectiveness. Some readers might find David and Kyra's parenting style absurd; others might find it all too familiar. Chances are, though, that everyone will relate to Tucker's perceptive exploration of how mistakes of the past can find echoes in the present, and how openness, rather than silence and denial, can result in hope and healing.
Reviewed by Norah Piehl on September 13, 2011
The Winters in Bloom
- Publication Date: June 5, 2012
- Genres: Fiction
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Washington Square Press
- ISBN-10: 1416575413
- ISBN-13: 9781416575412