Consistent with Richard Paul Evans' other books that he has written, the story is engaging and meaningful; and the characters are ones with whom a reader can easily connect.
The Sunflower is an easy and quick read; and the chapters are all quite short. This is a perfect book for someone like me who seems to get interrupted quite often.
Having adopted two daughters from orphanages in China, The Sunflower held a special interest in my heart. Although the story is set in Peru, it is located at an orphanage called El Girasol (The Sunflower). The orphange there is a bit different than the ones that Sophia and Olivia lived at for the first ten and eleven months of their lives.
In Peru, at El Girasol all of the children (with the exception of one) were male. In China, the majority of the children at the two orphanages where the girls were from were female.
The story begins by focusing on Christine whose fiance calls off their wedding a week before it is scheduled to happen. Although this is sad, it is the following chapters that center around Paul's (an E.R. doctor's) night of repeated stress and tragedies that, to me, are more moving and lay the foundation for the book.
These seemingly unrelated experiences that happened at two different time periods (years apart) become connected via a volunteer/mission-type trip to El Girasol in Peru.
The author paints an accurate picture of the condition of an orphanage that is struggling to survive, and the children who live there. The type of work that the volunteers in the group from the United States do at the orphanage as well as its impact is described.
As I read the book, I did not know El Girasol existed. In looking up an image of the book cover, I happened to come across images of people working - just as the author described. Further reading revealed that El Girasol does, in fact, exist.
El Girasol in Peru.
The real El Girasol - just like the one described in the book - literally saves the children from the streets and gives them a new life.
The book said, "El Girasol (the Sunflower) is sanctuary, as much to me as to the orphan boys we rescue from the Peruvian streets. But I have considered that it might be more. For in a world where evil seems to triumph more often than not, El Girasol is evidence that we might be something better - evidence that we might be good....The Sunflower is more than a place. It is hope."
If money were no object, I would head down to El Girasol and Peru right away. The Sunflower is an inspiring book, and is a great reminder that any help can make a difference in the life of a child. Something as simple as freshly painted walls in a classroom, a new toy, or even hair bows to make a little girl who had nothing feel special. - all can make a difference to a child.
It's generally the things we take for granted that have the biggest impact on children. We wouldn't even think twice about some of the most basic items we have...yet, for many of the children at these orphanages, these items are luxuries or, often, not even available.
In the book, there is a passage from Paul's (one of the main character's) diary. In part it said, "There are none so impoverished as those who do not acknowledge the abundance of their lives." This is a good reminder, especially at this time of the year.
Later this another passage that I found interesting to think about: "The secret of success in this life is to realize that the crisis on our planet is much larger than just deciding what to do with your own life. The only work that will ultimately bring any good to any of us is the work of contributing to the healing of the world."
The Sunflower was well worth my time, and certainly will re-energize my interest in helping those who are in need.