I thought of a flower for representing the story because a flower shows a kind of a journey by itself.

And then I thought of using the beetle whistle in some way, cause I felt that it was a huge part of the story – something that kept the sisters going – as if it was the last straw they were holding on to – their only hope in life. So, although there was much more to the story, this made a mark on me as a pivotal factor and I wanted to have it, but not in any direct way. So I made the petals of the flower as if they were made of insect wings – that’s why they have that net-like look and feel. That was my way of bringing in that whistle into the cover. 

A flower normally grows on a tender twig, it does not come out suddenly, there are stages preceding it and then other parts of the plant that come out before it, like tender leaves, buds and so on, and a foundation that supports it, cares for it. But that wasn’t the case here. Lynette never got the time and space to bloom into a flower, nor the support of a caring family. And she bloomed into a flower all of a sudden. So, in the first cover, I made the flower grow out of the rough bark – it represents the harsh circumstances she was going through.

When I thought more about her story, it struck me that even as a child, when Lynette was getting onto the ship, she was confused as to why her mother and father were fighting. In a way, that confusion marks the beginning of her struggle. So then I made the 2nd cover in which the twists and turns of the climber symbolize her struggle and her confusion.

As time passes, her struggle keeps getting worse, but she continues to brave it with a womanly grit. And  in the end, when relief and a life of luxury with her parents awaits her, she does not give up or give in but turns into an independent woman, to her own surprise!

In this 2nd cover, I chose those particular flowers to represent the concept of Bushido from the Japanese film – The last Samurai. The fact that ‘you can stay alive just to see these flowers blossom, and then when you have seen them, your life has been worth living’, is so pure, so deeply touching.

In the following weeks, I kept working a bit more on this 2nd cover – trying to make it more visually appealing, and came up with the 3rd version. I thought this was more visually attractive, except that I wasn’t so sure about the lettering of the title. It made the whole thing a bit comic.

And then the 4th cover came to me after we had discussed the visual appeal factor and its relevance for the reader group this book was meant for. So, the branches of the climber continue to portray the struggle of Lynette. And I stuck to the flower to represent Lynette. I added a bit of green – this was for the times when she goes through feelings of attraction for Tom, when she showers tenderness and protection for her little sister, shares the bonds of friendship with Anna – even while she is struggling against all odds, this green is alive within her. So that’s how I came up with this last cover.

Nargis Shaikh
Bhopal, 17.1.2014