Tempest and Tally Jo Trimble are mirror twins, long inseparable and utterly identical in many ways, yet growing apart as they reach their 13th birthday. Part of it is that Tempest is more interested in her scientific experiments than in hanging out with Tally. But more than that, the twins are also beginning to feel an invisible force pushing them apart whenever they stand too close. Tally fears that she and her twin are falling to the same curse that has kept their mother and aunt apart for so many years, and she is desperate to end the curse, and save her sister as she has always done.
In Flower Moon, Gina Linko wields magic, magnetism and a family curse linked to the phases of the moon as a potent metaphor for the all-too-relatable experience of growing up and growing apart. Yes, there is a mysterious force that threatens to separate the twins forever, but there are also very real issues that the twins must confront about their relationship. Linko keeps the incidents of magic deliberately ambiguous, so that it’s often unclear if Tally is indeed experiencing a physical force that keeps her from her sister or if she is simply responding to Tempest’s obvious desire to be left alone. As a result, the twins’ real-life problems are often more prominent than their magical ones, and the book is all the stronger for it.
Much as we sympathize with Tally’s desire to rekindle her closeness with her twin, with can’t help but sympathize just as much with Tempest’s need to move out from under her sister’s shadow. In one of the book’s most powerful scenes, Tempest accuses Tally of being unwilling to consider that Tempest’s quieter, more subtle ideas can be just as heroic as Tally’s more exuberant approach, and it’s a welcome moment that really fleshes out Tempest’s character. It’s particularly powerful because we can all too easily understand where both twins are coming from. Like Tempest, we wonder why we can’t be accepted for who we are, and why even those closest to us think our hobbies are odd. And like Tally, we wonder why things have to change simply because we grow older, and why the bond between sisters isn’t strong enough to break any curse.
For a book about magic and family curses, Flower Moon is a surprisingly quiet story. There are a few dramatic moments with magic, and a climactic magical battle, but the strength of the book is very much within the relationship between the sisters and the growth both of them have to undergo. Ultimately, as Tally learns, the goal isn’t so much rekindling the same closeness you had as children, but forging a new and stronger relationship that allows room for who you are becoming over time.
Thank you to Thomas Allen & Son for an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.