“Isabelle S said: 4 Starworts, meaning welcome (to a new author)
This book opens on Victoria Jones' 18th birthday, as her housemates in the group home try to set fire to her bed. Abandoned as an infant, Victoria was shuffled through the foster care system until age 9, when her last chance at being adopted failed spectacularly. Since then, she's been in group homes. The book is told in parallel story lines: 18 year old Victoria's attempts at managing her life, and the year 9 year old Victoria spent with her last chance foster mom Elizabeth.
Victoria is a heartbreaking character. Sure of nothing but her own worthlessness, she's suspicious and combative, holding everyone at bay so as not to disappoint or be disappointed. Elizabeth teaches her about the Victorian language of flowers, and Victoria uses it to convey her disdain for the world. (Thistle - misanthropy.)
There's a tiny touch of magical realism in the book, as 18 year old Victoria uses the flower language in her job in a florist shop to create bouquets with messages that seem to come true for the customers. More to the point, I thought Victoria's immersion in such a romantic and fanciful mode of communication gives a shred of hope that she won't succumb to the bleakness of her outlook. The ending isn't exactly happy, but is definitely hopeful.
I have a few questions and quibbles about the way certain events were presented, but most didn't occur to me until I was finished reading. It's a wonderful debut. The author is a foster and adoptive mom herself, and is working to establish The Camellia Network to help young adults transition from the system to independent life. (Camellia - my destiny is in your hands.) I wish her success and hope to read more from her in the future.
She said: ****4 Star**** is novel about an orphaned girl who connects with a potential adoptive woman who teaches her the ancient art of communicating with flowers. Though the child is used to sabotaging her relationships, she makes a huge mistake that haunts her into adulthood. The language of flowers helps her to heal as she establishes herself as a young adult.
Ellen R said: 3 stars
Victoria Jones has spent her life in the foster-care system but now that she has turned 18 she is emancipated and left to fend for herself. She has always been fascinated by flowers and the traditional meanings the blooms convey, or the "language of flowers". Victoria secures a part time job at a local florist shop and her astute pairing of flowers and people earn her a following of several customers who tell Victoria what they want in their lives and she designs an arrangement for them. When Victoria begins a relationship with a handsome young man, Grant, at the flower market she finally allows someone into her life but still cannot commit herself to a future with him. As she struggles with her love for Grant she remembers her painful past and a woman who had wanted to adopt her until Victoria sabotaged the relationship. Victoria will find her emotions sorely tested as an unexpected event changes her life forever.
I truly enjoyed learning the 'language' that the flowers represent and the premise that they could really bring a person what they desire. Victoria is an interesting character but I don't think that I like her very much. I know that so much of her anger arose from her difficult childhood and that would certainly cause her to distrust everyone but when people earnestly profess their love for her and she still can't accept it I just don't quite know how to feel about her. The story was a good one and the ending satisfying.
Regina L said: 4 Stars
Told in parallel story lines, emerging story lines, Victoria is a foster child. When her last, and best, chance at adoption by Elizabeth fails at the age of nine the remainder of her time as ward of the state is spent bouncing from one group home to another. However, at the age of 18, when she is emancipated, she is able to tap into one of the legacies left to her from her short stay with Elizabeth and begin building a life for her. Unfortunately, the scars from her childhood weigh her down, making happiness a bit elusive.
Victoria's story is heartbreaking and beautiful. I was kept on the edge of my car seat wanting to know what happened between Victoria and Elizabeth. If you believe that we all possess an innate talent and believe that any one person, even if your interaction with him or her is brief, can dramatically influence another this story will resonate with you. It is also a beautiful story about forgiveness and, particularly, the importance of self-forgiveness. I also enjoyed learning about the Victorian era concept of the language of flowers, an ironic contrast for the suspicious Victoria.
I listened to the audio version. For me, it is the perfect book for that platform. It didn't require a lot of brain power, but it kept me engaged. In fact, I probably would not have enjoyed it as much in written form, as I did think a couple of plot points were weak. I'm not a big fan of magical realism, but the thread here was so thin that it is barely recognizable.”