Flowering Mimosa is a story of lost innocence and coming of age among the disinherited of America in the 1980s. Against a backdrop of social and economic disruption in the American southwest, Petesch traces the fates of the Wingfield family, who have lost their Texas farm and moved to a mining town in Silver Valley, Idaho.
As various tensions threaten to break the family apart, Tamsen Wingfield reacts most strongly. She cannot accept her new stepmother, married too soon after her mother's death. She cannot accept the new life of her father--once a strong, confident Texas farmer, now a lead miner working miles below the surface in a strange territory her high school textbooks cannot explain. Her flight from family and country is both an illusory attempt to recapture her youth and a courageous act of survival.
Flowering Mimosa has the scope of all truly great fiction, combining a sense of history with a vision of the future. Petesch's acute sense of place and detail bring the small towns of Silver Valley (Idaho), of Texas, and of central Mexico alive, and her strong lyric gifts create, especially in Tamsen and her precarious escape with a lover, perhaps the most memorable of what the Chicago Sun-Times has called “her Steinbeck-like children.” In Tamsen, Petesch dramatizes those political and social concerns which led the Times Literary Supplement to comment, “what is impressive is Petesch's ability … to give a sense of what it was like, how it felt, to be an American … .”