Blog Book Tour | “Kinship of Clover” by Ellen Meeropol An ecological #SciFantasy written in the style of a Literary Novel which seeks to express a plea for developing an environmental conscious & awareness of the plight befalling the natural world.

Posted Thursday, 4 May, 2017 by jorielov , , 3 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I have been hosting for Poetic Book Tours for a few years now, where I am finding myself encouraged to seek out collections of poetry or incredible fiction being published through Small Trade publishers and presses. I have an Indie spirit and mentality as a writer and I appreciate finding authors who are writing creative works through Indie resources as I find Indies have a special spirit about them. It is a joy to work with Poetic Book Tours for their resilience in seeking out voices in Literature which others might overlook and thereby, increasing my own awareness of these beautiful lyrical voices in the craft. I was selected to review “Kinship of Clover” by Poetic Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of “The Kinship of Clover” direct from author’s publicist in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I was inspired to read this story:

I developed an environmental conscious at a very young age – recently I shared a few reasons why the natural world encourages my curiosity through discussing BioDiversity but this is a topic I regularly speak about as it parlays to my interests of staying environmentally aware. I appreciate seeking out stories which are uniquely written and told in a voice which illuminates the joy of finding story-tellers who are bending genre to their own will of style. I mentioned this on a recent Top Ten Tuesday topic as well. What draws my eye to the innovative styles of telling stories is simply being enfolded into a story which remembers there are no boundaries of where a story can take us visually nor through depth of heart. There is a spirit in the crafting of stories – of finding ways of telling stories which not only enrich the mind but endeavour to embrace the hidden truths of our world.

Therefore it was a pleasure and joy to find this title being offered for review on a blog tour recently. Reading the Editor’s Note was a bolt of inspiration too, as I liked how she mentioned most story-tellers who tackle a story similar to this one in breadth and centreing would focus on the negative or the darker undertones of how a story such as this is regularly conceived. I personally could do with less negativity and more pro-positive examples of how humanity still has the hope of turning things around or at the very least of limiting our impact which has grown out of hand. Positive hope is far better than the bitterness of pessimistic apocalyptic futures or dystopian violence.

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Blog Book Tour | “Kinship of Clover” by Ellen Meeropol An ecological #SciFantasy written in the style of a Literary Novel which seeks to express a plea for developing an environmental conscious & awareness of the plight befalling the natural world.Kinship of Clover
by Ellen Meeropol
Source: Publicist via Poetic Book Tours

He was nine when the vines first wrapped themselves around him and burrowed into his skin. Now a college botany major, Jeremy is desperately looking for a way to listen to the plants and stave off their extinction. But when the grip of the vines becomes too intense and Health Services starts asking questions, he flees to Brooklyn, where fate puts him face to face with a group of climate-justice activists who assure him they have a plan to save the planet, and his plants.

As the group readies itself to make a big Earth Day splash, Jeremy soon realizes these eco-terrorists devotion to activism might have him and those closest to him tangled up in more trouble than he was prepared to face. With the help of a determined, differently abled flame from his childhood, Zoe; her deteriorating, once rabble-rousing grandmother; and some shocking and illuminating revelations from the past, Jeremy must weigh completing his mission to save the plants against protecting the ones he loves, and confront the most critical question of all: how do you stay true to the people you care about while trying to change the world?

Genres: Biological Diversity, Botany, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Current Events, Ecology, Genre-bender, Psychology & Cognitive Science, Sci-Fantasy

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1597093811

Published by Red Hen Press

on 4th April, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 272

Published By: Red Hen Press (@RedHenPress)

Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #KinshipOfClover + #SmallPress & #ThinkGreen or #EarthDayEveryday

About Ellen Meeropol

Ellen Meeropol is fascinated by characters on the fault lines of political upheaval. Previous work includes a dramatic script telling the story of the Rosenberg Fund for Children which has been produced in four U.S cities, most recently in Boston. Elli is the wife of Robert Meeropol, youngest son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg.

Elli is a former nurse and independent bookstore event coordinator and the author of two previous novels, House Arrest and On Hurricane Island. She is a founding member of Straw Dog Writers Guild. Short fiction and essays have appeared in Bridges, DoveTales, Pedestal, Rumpus, Portland Magazine, and the Writer’s Chronicle.

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My review of kinship of clover:

Jeremy isn’t living an ordinary life when the plants first entreated to make a connection with him when he was nine years old. At that particular time in his life, he was noticing the changes which set him apart from other families; the least of which, was the fact he was only one of many children living in the same house but of whom belonged to different parents. There were rumours of his family being involved in a cult but the only thing on his young mind were three tragic deaths: the family’s cat and his siblings who died in the park. He couldn’t quite put his mind on what was changing around him or of the situations which led his family to live as they did but he knew one thing: the plants never touched him quite as intimately as they were in the greenhouse. They were embedding themselves under his skin and whispering inside his ear – to make him realise they were alive and they were conscious.

The next time the plants started to emerge out of his skin and tuck themselves close to his person was in college; during his radio programme where he took it as his mission to relate to his audience the tragedy of each extinct species which can no longer be recovered or saved. His entire being shook with the misery of how tragic the lives of plants had become and with each heartfelt pause on their species, he became more uncomfortable with their plight. He felt deeply about the absurdity of how they lost their lives; of how humanity was placing their needs above the natural world. This passionate dedication to his oration of course, provided a quick visit by staff and a nurse serving a late shift. They were concerned about his emotional responses and if he was able to separate himself from his dedicated studies and emotional soliloquy.

Shifting off of Jeremy for a moment – we enter Zoe’s life with her grandmother Flo who has a wicked fierce style of her own and an attitude about ‘farm fresh’ or at the very least ‘less tinned veg and more hand-picked’ choices for her personal diet. Zoe is your typical teenager whose not entirely buying the lifestyle choices of her grandmother but feels at her age, she’s earned the right to live her life the way she pleases; especially, you gather by her attitude if she could do her errands and shopping without Zoe. Zoe is one of the ‘kids’ who used to live with Jeremy and his twin, Tim. They were all connected through the adults who made choices which affected all of them and yet, none of them were allowed to remain in each others’ lives like they had been as children. If anything, they were told to buck up and simply ‘move on’ without having proper closure or explanation about the changes effecting their lives.

Jeremy wasn’t released on his own recognisance – he had to get his twin brother Tim to fetch him from New York City; something he was a bit irked about but decided to ‘go with it’ if it meant being released at all. You could touch the tension between the brothers; in some ways, you could understand things from both their points of view. Jeremy simply wanted to educate people about botany and the plants of whom he has become a bit too attached too whilst Tim wishes his brother could be less emotionally driven. All siblings have their differences but in this case, the two boys had forged a bond built on trust and the assurance that no matter what befell their lives, they’d stand by each other: thick and thin.

Flo is old school feminist – where you march, give speeches, create organisations and become an active participant in your community’s political scene where you make daring choices to assert your beliefs. She has a local group of like-minded feminist ladies who are still fiercely attached to the causes which unite them but they are entering a time in their lives where they’re being subjected to being ‘dismissed out of hand’ by those of whom they used to work side by side to create change. They are finding their voices are being muted or shut-out of the common voice of change whilst trying to re-inspire themselves to make a mark still on their own terms. It’s a timely testament about how despite how much time transpires between ‘then’ and ‘now’ there will forevermore be a need for people to rise up and cause the changes needed to happen in our country / world.

Sam (Zoe’s Dad, Flo’s son) is trying to turn a potential nightmare situation into a plausible resolution – he knows his mother’s memory issues, outspoken political views and inability to concede she’s in need of assisted living might warrant finding her a place where her views would be tolerated but where she could also gain the help she needed most by people overseeing her general well-being. Anyone whose had elder relatives with medical issues and the quirks of picking up habits which are not exactly easy to explain in public whilst being borderline on the dementia spectrum recognise what Sam is going through because it’s an uphill battle to do what is right for your loved ones and dealing with the fact they still have their fierce opinions about how they want to live their lives. Sometimes you have to find the balance in the middle and sometimes you have to force the issue at hand to safeguard themselves from living on their own where their continued independence could become a threat to their well-being. Life is horrifically complex and difficult but when you factor in the changing behaviours of loved ones who are reaching new stages of their elderly lives, there is no easy path forward to take without a heap of faith and a bolt of courage.

Whilst Tim tried to encourage Jeremy to reach out to others like him who took ecological climate change seriously, Flo was starting to accept her mind was not working the way it once did. Whilst she was out living her life, she was constantly trying to control the strands of memory she was quickly losing track of as she could see how she was starting to untether the things she used to know verbatim. She was a list-maker to the extreme; she grew up with the insecurities of everything and anything that could destruct a person’s life; on the smallest to largest scale of probability. She would work out things in her mind to circumvent any adverse situation but one thing she realised with haunting certainty is how do you stop your mind from erasing everything it knows?

There are elements of Sci-Fantasy merging into the Contemporary narrative – such as the portal opened by the plants themselves to transport Jeremy into a secret garden sanctuary in the middle of the city. The plants evoke a response out of him on a cellular level – he feels their pain and their consciousness. They can talk to him because part of his blood and DNA has mixed with planet DNA; in some ways, his dream of being a mutant similar to the X-Men has come true but in a curiously ecological method of intrusion. More similar to SpiderMan if you think on it as although he wasn’t bitten by a spider, his condition is nature centric. In truth, it’s much more akin to what happened to Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) in Batman and Robin (1997). The latter is my favourite version of the franchise – mostly as it had the most heart and soul in regards to character development and the journey the characters took during the film’s central arc. Jeremy hears the plea of the plant world to seek someone to speak on their behalf but he has difficult y in fuelling the passion he has for their decline into a tangible resolution which will not pin him as being clinically depressed or mentally unstable to where he loses the ability to make critical judgements for his personal welfare.

The most compelling passages involve Flo – her spiral into dementia and the lost feeling she had trying to understand what is happening as her mind slips further away from reality. She becomes lost in remembering her young years whilst forgetting what she is doing in the present – the way in which Meeropol eclipsed this experience from her point of view is by presenting life threatening situations which can happen when someone with memory issues forgets what their doing in the moment their mind ‘slips’ out of sync with their living hours. It’s a critical look into how time, memory and the need to remember start to crossect with the body’s will to simply let everything lapse if it is easier than fighting against the loss. You can feel what is happening to Flo whilst you watch how her life is quickly altering through each new stage of her degenerative disease takes effect. The fact you cannot return to the rhythm of your life and the pace of how you lived is the worst part about it all; as Meeropol illuminates so eloquently and honestly.

As you proceed through the story as it’s being told, you do wonder if Jeremy’s condition to see plants transmute themselves onto his skin and person are hallucinogenic or if it’s a new variant of DNA code inflicted by the cross-matching of plant DNA with human. I read most of this novel as a Sci-Fantasy which sought to speak about political topics and the current events surrounding ecological duress on the natural habitats which are diminishing under rising toxicity. The overlay of the ecological focus is one non-traditional family’s struggle to come to terms with their multi-ethnic background – especially as not all of their lineage is out in the open. There are family secrets and family skeletons hidden from sight and memory. It’s one part family drama and coming-of age story against the backdrop of environmental activism.

Fly in the Ointment:

Admittedly, despite realising most Contemporary Fiction is interlaced with vulgarity and stronger words than I prefer to see running through narratives – I do give a bit of leeway with stories involving PTSD and/or mental health / illness. However, some of the splices of stronger words stemmed out of the supporting cast rather than the lead. Ergo, these were flickerings of annoyances but blessedly were not overly peppered through the context of the story. *le sigh* This included the one word I would rather never see in a novel, too. It was used in the right context but evenso it’s never my ‘first’ choice for descriptive adjectives. It’s never my second or thirteenth choice either to be honest. If anything it’s my least favourite word in English.

on the writing style of ellen meeropol:

Meeropol can infuse a depth of awareness and a poignant spin of the extraordinary in mere paragraphs which take most writers legions of pages to bridge into the view of the reader. The opening of Kinship of Clover is powerful as much as it is evoking; as the centering layer is being place on the shoulders of a young boy who is on the verge of merging out of his childhood. He’s starting to become of aware of things others near him are clueless about but it’s also how calm he is in these realisations that make you wonder what great things are meant to touch his life.

Writing multiple perspectives with the ease of organically inserting them into their own concurrent timeline is what gave this novel buoyancy and continuity. You could shift from one set of characters to the next, whilst following a common thread of interest between all of them. Where one chapter ended, another picked up the momentum before returning back to the scene of where you were with the previous characters. In this way, it felt like you were following a journal where there was a chronicle of their lives as they were being lived. Whilst Meeropol writes characters with different socio-economic backgrounds and with a diverse array of interests, talents and personalities, she also has found a way to make her characters uniquely individual.

The beauty of reading this novel is the density of words populating the pages – you can get lost in the narrative because so much happens within each page turn. You cannot help but admire the breadth of what Meeropol stitched into this story; the way in which she en-capsuled everything to include not only the gravity of owning your own singular truths but of finding purpose out of the ordinary. She has a socio-political narrative which doesn’t overtly assert itself as one as it’s quite introspective when it’s not musefully compelling to underscore the difficulties in coming-of age at a time where everything is uncertain in one’s life.

Meeropol also goes into the differences between positive social activism and the other side which seeks to destroy or agitate negative repercussions than to educate. Especially in regards to environmental warriors for change vs what happens when a group of people choose to take action against those they are trying to protect or encourage to join their crusade.

The beauty for me is when her narrative turnt to the sequences where the plants spoke to Jeremy in an interpersonal way of  communicating his emotions and of expanding his understanding of how interconnected we are to nature. Meeropol has an intuitive narrative style which bespeaks of a heart for knowing exactly how nature and environment might seek out to communicate with humans if they felt their voices were never heard. The joy in reading her narrative is suspending yourself inside her musings and seeing where her narrative will take you; even if part of the story ends on a partially ambiguous conclusion.

Equality in Lit:

Although not the main focus of the story-line, the lead character is of a multicultural background and of an alternative lifestyle choice by his parents (ie. a commune). His father served time in prison and he is dealing with symptoms of depression by those who are able to observe his behaviour patterns; feeling that perhaps he is taking the plight of the natural world too personal to be healthy. Zoe has undisclosed medical complications (which later become more defined) and uses a wheelchair to prevent new injuries whilst her grandmother Flo was starting to suffer from dementia yet still determined to be an active feminist warrior for social change.

Meeropol tackles the hard issues – such as when Flo starts to admit she needs to address her failing memory and the fragility of being slightly out of control of one’s ability to function in ordinary life. She highlights the difficulties of Tim and Jeremy growing up with half siblings, two sets of mothers and the uniqueness of their family dynamic being augmented through non-traditional unions of relationships whilst their cultural heritage was spilt between more than one culture of identity.

When Flo’s diagnosis turns out to be Alzheimer’s, Meeropol explores what happens when a family is unsure how to proceed when medical science is hinting towards a drug-induced cure which might not be the best benefit to the patient. I appreciated how Sam was striving to meet a balance between a safe place for his mother to live and a place which understood the quirkiness of his mother was best approached with art and a companion in fur named Charlie rather than medicating her past the point where she’d no longer understand the order of days. She also helps articulate what happens when someone with Alzheimer’s goes through in their everyday moments; from remembering and forgetting in equal measures everything they used to know and regularly took for granted for never forgetting; until the day, everything seemed to be lost in equal proportion. Overall, Meeropol offers a realistic impression of how difficult it is from the children and grandchildren of whom are directly affected by their loved one’s dissolving memories.

reading habit:

This story is best listened with #SlackerRadio: Indie Coffeehouse playing through your headphones because the lyrics of the artists and the soundscapes their creating are a great backdrop to the narrative. At least, this is what I found myself whilst listening to the music as I read the novel. I’m in the habit lately of listening to certain stations to create a ‘sound’ and vibe which best befit the story I am currently reading. It’s an interesting journey, as the music and the words of the stories I’m reading start to blur and merge together creating a new experience to be embraced.

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Poetic Book ToursFollow the blog tour for more readerly insights & reactions.

I cannot stipulate this enough, I am forever grateful to Poetic Book Tours for expanding my literary horizons – not just for the collections of poetry which they are singularly reknown for promoting but for the Small Press & Indie Authors they support in the literary realms. I am a seeker of stories and of the curiously ‘new’ ways in which stories can be told or articulated. I am finding Poetic Book Tours has a particular penchant for seeking the same ‘unique voice’ in literature as I crave to read. It is my profound joy in being a hostess for them as each blog tour I step closer to observing the shift in how Literature can stretch past what is known and continuously develop into a new entity of how words paint new worlds of insight about humanity.

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who picked up the same story to read.

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Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017.

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One of the most heart-warming surprises was reading the author’s reaction to my review of her novel and seeing someone else comment on it’s behalf as well. Truly a lovely lift of spirit to see how my ruminations touched the writer and a reader.

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Thursday, 4 May, 2017 by jorielov in 21st Century, Blog Tour Host, Book for University Study, Botany, Climate Change, Coming-Of Age, Conservation, Ecology, Environmental Advocacy, Environmental Conscience, Environmental Science, Equality In Literature, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Fly in the Ointment, GeoPhysical History, Horticulture, Indie Author, Literary Fiction, Literature for Boys, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Modern Day, Mother-Son Relationships, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Poetic Book Tours, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Realistic Fiction, Science Fantasy, Siblings, Twin Siblings, Vulgarity in Literature

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3 responses to “Blog Book Tour | “Kinship of Clover” by Ellen Meeropol An ecological #SciFantasy written in the style of a Literary Novel which seeks to express a plea for developing an environmental conscious & awareness of the plight befalling the natural world.

    • Hallo, Hallo Ms Cox!

      I was rightly impressed with this book & with the publisher for letting the story on it’s own merits. The publisher and author made such an impact on me, I’ms starting to curate a #mustread List of authors in their Pub catalogue to explore reading next! I was so inspired + encouraged by the creative vision of Ms Meeropol, this story never quite left me! I was contemplating the themes / story arc long after I put the book down! It truly was awe-inspiring – how she bridged everything inside her character’s journey with the ‘unknown’ elements left there to be interpreted by the reader as whether or not they were fact or fiction within the confines of the novel. #sostimulating this one! Love books which give you a ‘good think!’ and make you dissect it’s heart!

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