Monthly Archives: August 2014

Review: The Little Flower Vignettes: Story Behind the Story

The Little Flower Vignettes: Story Behind the Story
The Little Flower Vignettes: Story Behind the Story by Florita Bell Griffin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is not a fiction. The stories told are not a figment of the author’s imagination. The emotions and scenarios described are facts embedded in history and the memory of one little girl. This is the medium chosen to share these facts. This book is based on real life. It really did happen, though hard it may be to believe. It is not a story of abuse, but love. It is not another piece of literature that highlights the weakness and frailty of black people, but it is one of hope. This is not a book that supports a mediocre mind-set, but it speaks to the strength within each of us and what happens when that strength is fully realized in one person.

You will be greatly inspired and challenged to reach higher, and remove the limits you have placed on yourself. We are all born to be great, and to overcome every obstacle. This is a testimony of that truth.

You may be forced to question the title “Little Flower.” The only thing little about our main character is her physical body, but that was a long time ago. Little Flower is the interpretation of her name, and rightly so. She loves flowers. But more so she adds a level of beauty to our history that flowers do in gardens. She has overcome impossible obstacles, and achieved much. She has experienced all the pit falls of child hood and the glory of adult hood. This author simply wants to tell her story. You will laugh, cry and applaud as you flip through these pages. It is by no means an easy read and when you get to the end, you may find it difficult to pull yourself out of the chair, or bed…but the time you spend on this journey will be worth it, and you will want to take it over and over again with and without your children.

This is literary art at its best. It uses words to provoke, inspire and more importantly paint a vivid picture that will last for many generations to come. I am not trying to sell you this book. I am telling you that this is a rare gem that you most certainly need to own.

Dr. Florita Bell Griffin has taken small snippets of her own life and weaved a very interesting tale of faith, love, honour and the experiences that eventually made her who she is. It is very easy to make the connection between these ‘vignettes’ and the Author who pens them. It is very clear that these are her most treasured memories, and I can’t help but feel that there is still more stories that need to be told. So consider this book only an introduction and expect more from this author. After all, how else can we preserve our glorious history, if not with books?
Her writing style is simple, which makes her a very good children’s writer. So this book is an introduction to her first children’s book. Is it strange that as an adult, I also enjoy reading it? Maybe that speaks to the diversity and multi-cultural appeal of this book. It was so easy to become engrossed in the story from the very beginning, which is good in that it makes a very easy and emotional read, but it is bad as your emotions will be escalated to unforgettable proportions at the end. This is a story you won’t know until you read it, but you will never forget after you have read it. As a matter of fact, you will want more.

Florita was born and raised in the era of the civil rights movement. Her Father was a pastor and a civil rights advocate, so you can imagine what she went through as a child. The book takes us through an unforgettable journey from the time when J. F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated to a very pivotal time in the life of the author, a time none of us are ever seemingly prepared for, and very few survive. The Author remembers vividly being at both funerals for those two great men killed in the line of duty, so to speak. They were our advocates; our eyes, mouth and ears in a society that struggled to accept men of colour. She captures the essence of the times, and the emotional atmosphere of those unfortunate events. These events begun to shape her life, and she was very young. How she remembers is a miracle in itself.

Her father was a strict disciplinarian who had one rule, “Always follow my rules.” Of course PKs (Pastors Kids) are known to break rules, and “Little Flower” was no exception. She did her best to follow the rule, but every so often a situation calls for an independent decision that may be considered breaking the rules. Sometimes the good we do, goes against the grain and is usually accompanied by some serious consequences, but men never cease to do good. After all, this Author has a heart that is bigger than simply submitting to self-preserving rules. As children, we can all agree that we obeyed to avoid being spanked, which was our version of persecution as children. But isn’t persecution worth it, when it is administered because we did good.

Florita is a success story that America needs to hear. If you spare the rod, you will spoil the child. In her case, the rod was never spared but try to compare her life to the kid who was never spanked? Don’t be deterred or fall prey to the pity you may feel when reading such portions of the book. The author never undermined her experiences, but adequately highlighted that she learnt from each of them.

The flow of the story is also very good. It follows somewhat of a chronological or linear order with snippets of events and emotions that happen momentarily over several years. We are forced to fill in the blanks as we read, and there are many gaps to be filled. Each chapter is a turning point in the life of the author and we don’t necessarily need to know the details of the in between. Remember the title of the book is “snippets” which can be interpreted as the life changing moments in time that shaped the future and character of the author.

Florita has lived a very eventful and interesting life, and her experiences may not be any different from anyone born and raised in America during the civil rights movement, but how many had a chance to tell their stories. I am sure their children and grandchildren may have heard, but most of us haven’t, until now. It is good to note that Florita’s father excelled in a time when blacks were still considered to be slaves. He owned a car company, and may have even been the first black man to drive a limo. Well, maybe this is a fact in the world of “Little Flower.” She did see the world a little differently from most little children.

That is the true beauty of this book. We see the world and all that is going on through the innocent eyes of a child. At no point are we given over to any other perspective but her own. It is her interpretation of the world that we read, her interpretation of the actions around her, her interpretation of the death by assassination of two of the greatest men who ever lived, her interpretation of life, love, faith, resilience and death.

In Little Flowers eyes innocence exist, and those who stand up for those who can’t defend themselves are her heroes. Every mistake she makes is an opportunity to learn something new. Her Father’s strict, disciplinary characteristic drives her to succeed in all she does and inspires her to attempt the impossible. For her, there are no limits except that which one puts on themselves. If you can believe it, it can be achieved.

Every adult will enjoy reading these stories. Every child will enjoy reading these stories. Every child will enjoy being read these stories. I see this book at the bed side of every black American child. It reminds us of where we are coming from. It highlights our rich history, and some of the very people who gave their lives to make freedom and equality a reality. The beauty about it, more so the best thing about it is that we are given this unique opportunity to see it all through the eyes of a little girl, a Little Flower.

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