Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: January 1st, 2011 (softcover on April 3rd, 2012)
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Source: I received a finished copy from the publisher.
Blurb: 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.
Review: Not too many books have made me cry this year. That’s not a normal thing as I am usually an emotional person who cries fairly easily. But not this year. Perhaps it’s because I’ve toughened up and become desensitized, I don’t know, or perhaps it’s because I’ve gotten pickier and liked much less of what I have been reading this year. But this book. OH, this book. It had me on the floor with the Kleenex *cough* toilet paper *cough*, rolling around like Nancy Kerrigan screaming, “Why, why?” before I had closed the last page.
Victoria, you were one hard-to-like protagonist. There were times when I wanted you to be real just so I could slap you and tell you what an idiot you were being. There were moments–few and far between–when I sympathized with you and really felt so badly that the world had let you down. I say few and far between because a lot of what happened to you you brought on yourself. And I tried, I REALLY DID, to understand you, but you were just incorrigible and oh so frustrating. The people around you loved you and you just couldn’t see it. They would have done anything for you, regardless of the horrible things you had done. Being given up repeatedly by so many foster parents and getting lost in the system must have been a horrible, horrible thing to go through. And yet I cannot imagine CHOOSING to be homeless because I was scared that I would disappoint someone. Even if that were true–and call me selfish if you want–but at some point you have to look out for #1 first. And yet, as ridiculous as I found your actions most of the time, I fell for you, heart and soul, and just wanted everything to work out for you. Maybe I am a masochist. I think I would have been Grant in this story.
Now that I am done addressing Victoria *slaps her and then hugs her*, I want to talk about the rest of the characters really quickly. Grant was a wonderful character but I never really felt like I knew him.It’s not that he wasn’t developed well because I don’t find that to be true at all, but he was more of the strong, quiet type who was just willing to lay back and accept what happened around him. Too laid back. I liked him but he also frustrated me because he never spoke! Well, hardly. I don’t know. He was an amazing character but the type of character you don’t come across often because he was not so in-your-face as most characters are.
Elizabeth, though. Elizabeth broke my damn heart. If there was one character in the book that I wanted to hug and take care of, it was her. Perhaps it was because I saw some of my grandmother in her, but she was just a generally wonderful and caring person. She truly loved Victoria and wanted to make her her daughter more than she wanted life itself. I often say about myself that I am not an easy person to love, but I think Elizabeth would have been able to love just about anyone because her heart was so pure. I can’t even begin to describe the buckets of adoration I had for this woman. She just NEVER gave up. She was so strong for everyone else but never herself. Hard to explain, but this is the type of person you want in your life, and if you have ever been lucky enough to have one, you know what I mean.
This book–if you are patient enough to not throw it at the wall–will have you looking in the mirror to check how puffy your eyes are. You’ll be at the sink, loading up the dishwasher when all of a sudden you will think about something that happened in the book that made you cry, and oh, oh, there go the waterworks again. *&#%!!
The writing was beautiful and the prose flowed in a way that just really connected with me. I truly enjoyed the author’s voice. It’s not a book that will be an all-time favorite, I don’t think–see me in a few months–but I still really, truly enjoyed it, and I think for the right person, this book could be a life-changing experience. If you haven’t had a chance to read this one yet, you should pick up a copy. It’s in softcover now and fairly affordable. If you have, I would love to hear your thoughts.
I will be holding a giveaway of this one sometime this month, so stay tuned for that. As always, it will be international.