The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.
THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
I really enjoyed this book. It was gritty at times and I really liked that about it. Granted, there were also times where I thought, “Yeah…like that would happen.” Such as when Victoria, homeless and in need of a shower, gets hired by a local florist that never seems to judge her based on her appearance. In a perfect world of course that could happen but that moment did feel a bit fantastical to me. I was hoping, at some point, to find out that the florist had experienced something similar, hence her decision to hire Victoria, but that wasn’t the case. Oh, well. Moving on!
The protagonist, Victoria, suffers from a multitude of trust and abandonment issues and is a psychological mess but not without reason. She’s a product of a failed foster system and several pitiful excuses for foster families along the way. In addition to that, there’s her own guilt that regarding the part she’s played in helping push people away from her but as a psychology student, that made sense to me. This novel felt very real for the most part and definitely didn’t push things too far in terms of the push and pull of Victoria’s wanting comfort and reassurance from others but simultaneously pushing them away.
Progressing to the point where Victoria finds herself pregnant and then later delivering a baby in a closet was a point of frustration for me, truthfully speaking. Part of me wanted to believe that this woman’s motherly instincts would surely kick in any minute now but, regrettably, they never did. I can’t be upset about it, though, because it plays such a huge part in displaying just how damaged Victoria is from her childhood. She cannot even find it within herself to connect with her own daughter.
The ending, while definitely not a “happy” ending, felt absolutely believable for me. In my opinion, it was the finest way to end this novel–a happy ending would have ruined the entire book! In the end, Victoria gives up her daughter to the foster mom she cared for most and slowly, steadily, they all begin to rebuild their relationships with each other. I thought it was a great set up to a future happy ending and very realistic in the fact that sometimes things really cannot be wrapped up with no loose ends like neat little, perfect packages.
Overall, I would say well done. Very well done. This book is going on my favorites list for a while. I may even re-read it, which is something I never do.
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