Verdict: An illuminating portrait of the devastating lifelong effects of a mental illness, DANDELION ANGEL uses a unique story structure to enrich the reader’s experience with the characters.
In modern day Germany, several women navigate adulthood after perilous childhoods.
Caren is a young professional living with a loving husband. As Christmas approaches she is excited and nervous about the lavish gift she has bought her mother. Irja is devoted to raising a young son who she loves despite her own questionable girlhood. J0 has figured out a way to make good on a formerly beloved horseback riding pastime. Mandy still bears the emotional toll from a series of damaging events and people in her adolescence yet makes a good living as a bike messenger.
All four of these women live with the psychological scars from completely dysfunctional families. Their mothers–Ute, Ada, Gudrun, and Petra, respectively–all suffer from a psychological condition called Borderline Personality Disorder. As the young women lead their own lives they are continuously drawn into the orbits of their mentally ill mothers and all of the emotional baggage that accompanies them. Although as the girls grew up they had no way of knowing that their mothers were mentally ill, some of them combat the after-effects with therapy in their adulthood, even as their personal relationships suffer from the lingering consequences and continued relationships with their mothers.
DANDELION ANGEL does not function as a typical novel, rather it is a series of linked vignettes that examine the lives of the women at a few different points in their lives with vivid memories and flashbacks to the past. While a reader expecting a more traditional book might be disappointed by this, the format works as the author spends a fair amount of time with each character before moving on to the next woman, and the characters are each revisited before the end of the book as well. All four of the stories are linked at the very end of the book in a way that is not hard to believe or forced and the portraits of the mothers who suffer from the disorder are well-researched. While the flashbacks to the past are haunting, the real tragedy in each story is just how much the daughters still struggle to be free of their mother’s influence without wholly severing contact in the present.
An illuminating portrait of the devastating lifelong effects of a mental illness, DANDELION ANGEL uses a unique story structure to enrich the reader’s experience with the characters.