There is a saying, “all good things must come to an end,” and for me, this saying became true when I recently finished reading Seed of the Sunflower, the third book in an amazing trilogy by gifted author Lisa N. Edwards. This trilogy began with the impressive Can’t Fight Fate and its equally impressive sequel, Chasing Butterflies. These books told the story of Hollywood entertainment lawyer Nikki Kirkpatrick, a woman desperately searching for the green eyed soul mate predicted by psychics.
Whether or not you endorse the legitimacy of psychic predictions, Lisa N. Edward’s books address more universal truths: Are we beholden to destiny? Should we passively go through the motions of our days, skipping the beauty inherent in the moments, in favor of a future that may already be prescribed for us by Fate? What role and responsibilities do we have in becoming the people we want to be? Should we allow others to script our happiness or do we play a part in this process?
Edwards’ protagonist, Nikki Kirkpatrick, is intelligent, loyal and sensitive. But she also harbors intense self-doubt. She wants to believe that the psychics are correct about her green-eyed soul mate. Yet, after many years of unsuccessfully dating prospects that seemingly fulfill the portrayal painted by psychics, Nikki grows increasingly hopeless of her romantic happily ever after. In addition, time appears to be against her: she is quickly approaching forty years old and this Cinderella wonders whether her happily ever after has long passed its expiration date.
At the outset of the book, Edwards sets the stage for emotional drama. Nikki’s friend Siobhan hovers in a precarious situation. In the previous books of this trilogy, readers got to know Siobhan. Unlike Nikki, Siobhan is outspoken and maintains an outwardly tough exterior. She is a great friend to Nikki and whether or not it was Edwards’ intent, Siobhan becomes the voice of the reader. She is unafraid to ask Nikki some difficult questions. And while Siobhan is sympathetic to Nikki’s insecurities and plight, she doesn’t coddle Nikki nor stroke her friend’s ego. Siobhan tells Nikki to value herself. While perhaps you “can’t fight fate” , Siobhan wants Nikki to seize both personal and professional opportunities and to recognize that it is she (Nikki) who is an important piece in that jigsaw puzzle that we call life. Arguably, in looking for other pieces and trying to get them to “fit”, it is easy to underestimate our own role in our own lives. Siobhan doesn’t want Nikki to become a passive spectator in her own life.
Siobhan is remarkably wise, but that doesn’t mean her life is a fairy tale. She is the mother of a young baby, Ciarn, but motherhood and maternal instincts aren’t coming easy for Siobhan. Further, her relationship with her love Bradley is strained. This newly formed family unit of Siobhan, Bradley and Ciarn is tested. So what Edwards does is afford readers parallel journeys between Nikki and Siobhan’s lives. Siobhan enriches Nikki’s story and also has her own narrative. I like this because I wanted Siobhan to be more than just a sounding board for Nikki’s problems. I won’t spoil the plot for readers, but despite Siobhan and Bradley’s difficulties, Edwards offers a great payoff for these characters.
But back to Nikki, Edwards is a clever writer. If you think that Seed of the Sunflower (and its worthy predecessors) are imprisoned by the notions of the future because they speak to Fate and have eyes fixed to what will happen in the future, then you would be mistaken. Edwards makes effective use of Nikki’s past. We learn a bit of Nikki’s parents’ relationship and Nikki’s relationship with her father and can’t help but wonder if adult Nikki’s romantic road has been shaped by these relationships. Further, Nikki’s former suitors (Calvin, CJ and Monte) make appearances in Seed of the Sunflower. These men are such important pieces in Edwards earlier books as well as Nikki’s jigsaw puzzle and I was especially pleased to see how Edwards used them in Seed of the Sunflower. Monte doesn’t play as big a role in the third book. But readers will definitely want to pay close attention to Calvin and CJ. Edwards offered subtle foreshadowing for these men and an emotional and dramatic resolution for both Calvin and CJ that I never saw coming. The laughter as well as the tears, the emotional rollercoaster that you will experience when reading Seed of the Sunflower, will amaze you. These characters will insinuate themselves into your heart.
Like any author of Lisa N. Edwards caliber is aware, new characters marvelously flesh out a narrative when carefully integrated into the plot. To that end, Edwards gives us Jaxton Bear (nicknamed Teddy) and Jaycee Preston. Remember the psychics predictions about Nikki’s green eyed soul mate? Well, Edwards is ingenious in her use of Teddy and Jaycee. Edwards is masterful in writing descriptions so the physical attributes of Teddy and Jaycee are fully set forth and the relevance of these descriptions won’t be lost on neither Nikki nor the reader. Further, Edwards is astute in connecting her characters’ lives. I really like this aspect of Edwards’ writing style. People who walk into Nikki’s life serve the greater overall picture. There isn’t a character that is extraneous or haphazardly used in this book.
Some authors shun the use of chapter titles, but not Lisa N. Edwards. In addition to offering a slew of ingenious chapter titles, Edwards uses her chapter titles to let readers understand Nikki’s inner dialogue and character growth. My initial curiosity when I embarked on a new chapter (What will this chapter title mean to the story?) was always satisfied because it was as if I could prowl around Nikki’s brain and become privy to her feelings. My favorite chapter titles were Backstreet’s Back (a clever chapter title that plays into Siobhan’s story), Hollow Words and A Different Kind of Awkward (a true assessment and a hilarious development for Nikki), Expectation vs Reality, The Ostrich Effect (okay, I REALLY LOVED this chapter title and Edwards, as expected, didn’t disappoint in weaving this meaning of this title into Nikki’s story), Disaster Artist (a humorous look at Teddy who is so adorably awkward that it is reminiscent of Nikki) and Street Psychic (Pay close attention to the foreshadowing offered in this chapter). There are so many other brilliant chapter titles. It just amazed me the depth of skill and insight that it must have taken Edwards to formulate these chapter titles to allow them to brilliantly shadow the character motivations and plot. They were these creative blueprints that heightened the effectiveness and enjoyment of the book.
There is a saying “all good things must come to an end.” I feel as if I was privileged to have a front seat to Nikki Kirkpatrick’s journey and I admit that I am sad to see this amazing trilogy end. Seed of the Sunflower (along with Can’t Find Fate and Chasing Butterflies) is a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit. We must understand that while Fate doesn’t ask our permission in scripting the path of our lives, we can’t underestimate how important we are to ourselves. Sure, we look towards the future and may assign a great role to others in making our lives fulfilling. But we also need to appreciate that we are that missing piece in our destiny. We are necessary in fostering our own happiness. And maybe we can appreciate the past, present and future once we learn how to appreciate ourselves.
Seed of the Sunflower is a must read. I highly recommend this book as well as Can’t Fight Fate and Chasing Butterflies. The positive messages, the elegantly descriptive writing, the raw emotion, the authenticity of the characters, the humor, the dialogue, the thought provoking chapters are the essential pieces of a well conceived fictional treasure.