1 out of 4 stars
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The Gardens of Trinidad by Patrick Flenniken follows the story of a young boy named Sean. After the death of his father, he moves to Los Angeles with his mother, though he is not happy about it. To add to his distress, his mother spirals further down into depression, and she also gets involved in the world of drugs and prostitution. A ray of hope appears when he meets a girl named Socorro, but she, too, is struggling with a twisted past. To navigate the treacherous grounds on which his life now stands, Sean receives help from an old man named Trinidad.
My rating for The Gardens of Trinidad is 1 out of 4 stars. One of the most off-putting things about the book is the number of grammatical errors in it. The most common mistakes are of missing punctuations and words. Sometimes, the tense changes abruptly, from the past tense to the present tense. These errors, among others, persist throughout the novel and spoil the reading experience. This book needs a strong round of editing.
Another thing that does not work in the favour of the novel is its writing style. The story centres around the lessons taught by an old man to a young boy. The core of these lessons is rather good, and had it been well-written, some things could have been quite illuminating. However, the author fails to effectively transform their feelings and intentions into words, and the reader becomes uninterested long before a concrete point is made. The author also sticks to the approach of simply stating things rather than showing them. This makes the writing bland and turns the story boring. Had the author been more expressive, things might have turned out differently.
The Gardens of Trinidad also suffers from the lack of good characters. Even though Sean, Socorro and Trinidad are good people, we don’t feel any attachment to them. Even though we empathise with Sean and want to root for him, we don’t feel compelled to do so. What also put me off about him was this line: “Who knows why Socorro got pregnant at a young age. Is she loose or was there another explanation?” Had this thought belonged to a bad person in the story, I would have understood. Sean, however, is supposed to be a good person, and him saying something like this about a girl that he barely knows is supportive of the “loose girl” stereotyping. I was also irked by the fact that there is no chemistry between the characters. Be it Sean and Socorro or Sean and Trinidad, all of them seem so distant from each other that the conversations between them sound robotic.
This book needs a couple of revisions to strengthen its writing, plot points and characters. I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone until then. In an ideal situation, it would be a suitable read for young adults, as the message of the novel is directed primarily towards them. There is some foul language in it that does not make it suitable for children. Those who like the stories of crime and drug mafia might also like it.
The Gardens of Trinidad
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