“The Center for Disease Control states that “mental disorders among children are described as serious changes in a way children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions, causing distress and problems getting through the day.” Some of the most common diseases in children are ADHD, depression, anxiety, and behavior disorders. This often makes learning in a traditional classroom environment difficult. These children are typically classified as nuisances or bad kids. E.M. Duesel prefers to call them “wildflowers.”
At Ouray High School, there are several wildflowers, including friends Jack and Tony, who have bipolar disorder, Brady, who suffers from debilitating depression, and Rosie, who claims to be able to read minds. The school board employs Fergus Chesed to correct their behavior and teach them in a segregated space. Chesed’s militaristic approach doesn’t sit well with English teacher Frankie Cedric. She proposes a new direction for these students, and Chesed is quickly replaced. Little do they know, Chesed is battling his own demons and has a biting urge to make Cedric and the children “feel the pain.” Will he ever be able to let it go, or will the demons take over?
Wildflowers is a fictional account of one woman’s effort to revolutionize the education system for students who learn differently. My favorite part of the book was the antagonist, Fergus Chesed. He was perceived as a strict teacher who demands respect. Unbeknownst to the school board, he is haunted by the memory of his abusive mother. As the book progressed, Chesed became less and less lucid, and it was impossible to predict what he would do next. This inspired an element of suspense that made the book irresistible.
Some heavy themes can be found throughout the book. For instance, mental health is the primary subject matter. Duesel has done extensive research on the topic and explains that most mental health issues in children and adults are caused by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) such as abuse, rape, molestation, and trauma. Many of the kids in this book relive their experiences, and some are explained in detail. I think this could be disturbing to some people. Short of kissing, there was no eroticism in the book, but there was heavy use of profanity. I would mostly recommend Wildflowers to readers who are at least 16 years old and would not be easily triggered by the themes mentioned above.
In terms of quality, I think that Wildflowers was relatively well done. I came across five minor errors, which leads me to believe that Duesel took the time to proofread the book. I do not, however, think that the editing was done professionally. There was nothing to dislike about the story as I was engaged from cover to cover. I loved her use of knowledge on the subject and how her research was applied to the narrative. With another round of editing, I would give a perfect score, but for now, I am happy to award E.M. Duesel with 3 out of 4 stars.”
I’m very happy with this review. Ms. Shaw was spot on about both statements that I proofed my own book (at least five times), since it is very expensive to have it professionally edited. Overall, this review makes me very proud.