Okay, I know I say this after pretty much every book that I read, but this was seriously the best book I’ve read in a long time, and definitely the best book of my 100 book reading challenge so far.
The book centres around Victoria, a young girl in San Francisco who is forced to leave her group foster home at the age of 18 and starts living rough in a park. She finds a job at a florist, and we find out that she has a natural talent for flowers and a talent for knowing the meaning of each flower, enabling her to create perfect arrangements for her customers. It’s with the help of the owner Renata that she finds a home and starts to come out of her shell.
The book goes back and forth between 18 year old Victoria and 9 year old Victoria. When you are first introduced to her at 9 years old, she is taken to live with a woman called Elizabeth. The home seems perfect, Elizabeth seems perfect, and Victoria seems to be thriving in her new home. However this is where the book gets really intriguing, as you know that Victoria was in a group home and therefore did not stay with Elizabeth, so you spend all the time waiting for something to happen which will tear Victoria away from her perfect mother. Each time you think something is going to happen, it’s not what you expect and it leaves you on edge until almost the very end of the book.
Meanwhile, 18 year old Victoria meets a man she recognises at the flower market, and you find out that it’s the son of Elizabeth’s sister. At first Victoria pushes him away, but he shares her love for flowers and their special language, and gradually they become closer and closer. That is, up until Victoria finds out she is pregnant and she runs away again, returning only after the baby is born to leave the baby in his house and disappear from their lives. Eventually, Victoria comes clean to Grant about the truth of what happened to separate her and Elizabeth, and is reunited with Elizabeth again after over 8 years apart.
The ending of the book was great, I won’t spoil the entire book here by giving away the ending, but it was simultaneously not what I expected and perfect for the story. The book was so beautifully written that you become involved in Victoria’s life and feel every emotion that she is feeling. This is made even stronger by the gradual unravelling of her young life and the struggles that she has gone through.
A final surprise when I’d finished the book was a dictionary of flower meanings at the back of the book – the author really did her research. For example, my favourite flowers are Tulips (A declaration of love), Daffodils (New beginnings), Buttercups (Ingratitude) and Pink Carnations (I will never forget you).