San Francisco Book Review

Love Song of a Flower Child
By Mary Stewart Anthony
WestBow Press, $17.95, 236 pages, Format: Trade

Star Rating: 5 out of 5

//LOVE SONG OF A FLOWER CHILD// is a very earnest and candid portrayal of a woman’s dire journey for purpose, fulfillment and self-realization through the times of bohemian culture and lifestyle and with several spare plunges into occult studies and practices; Mary Stewart Anthony’s loaded and viciously charged tale of her downward spiral, from dropping out of college, uprooting and separating completely from her New York home, an abusive marriage and substantial experimentation with psychedelic drugs, and renouncing her early days of religion, is startling and truly outrageous: “I felt hemmed in by this thick concentric circle of dope smokers, pimps, and madmen, an onlooker who was a prisoner of her own rebellion (76). The book gradually moves along three parts in the various stages of this dysfunction and, for the most part, operates in a rather linear craze stemming from Anthony’s childhood and adolescence, manifesting itself in college years and fully actualizing in her love life and well into the birth/rearing of two daughters. Despite Part 1 dragging out with an unclear timeline and a lack of natural transitioning between the family and their back stories, particularly due to the few instances of dates for grounding this section, the confusion subsides and the reader is engulfed wholly in the continuing narrative.

Mary Stewart Anthony is articulate and well versed in the power of literature and poetry as she sketches her shaky trajectory in the flower children. //LOVE SONG OF A FLOWER CHILD// is thus entrancing and enthralls until the last emotionally ridden page. Not only is the plot thick with a psychological rendition of “what does it all mean?” with “brutal soul-searching…, probing and questioning…” but the added influence of marijuana, wine, LSD, impacts the distortion of said hippie generation (40). There is a lot of big name dropping like Timothy Leary, Jackson Pollock, the Beatniks like Jack Kerouac, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsburg, Janice Joplin, among many others, which definitely speaks to the times and motions of this generation. The beauty of this memoir is that despite the wretched “dark side of those days,” there is a revival of self ultimately with a powerful discerning and reflection (77). In trying to secure a place in the world, the direct community and within self, Mary  Stewart Anthony travels in search of a simple life and she finds it full circle in Christianity.

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