18-year-old Victoria Jones finds herself emancipated from the foster care system after "aging out." She'd been mostly in the system since her mother abandoned her at birth. She's hidden her troubles in caring for flowers throughout the years. She's well versed in the "language of flowers" and often uses them to communicate her feelings, taking a misanthropic comfort in the fact that most people have no idea what she is trying to convey. Her former caseworker takes her to a halfway house where she spends three months doing nothing with her life aside from planting flowers because she says there's nothing she "wants" bad enough to motivate herself, which turns out to be very untrue. After leaving the halfway home and becoming homeless, Victoria starts working with a florist and her memories, fears, and needs start to unravel.
I really struggled with what I should rate this book for various reasons. I thought it was very beautifully written and emotionally driven. but I guess some of my ill feelings come from the fact that Victoria drove me crazy at times. I couldn't figure out where her thought process was going with some of the decisions she made, and while I understand that's part of the point due to her life, it was just so contradictory at times (for me) that it made me lack empathy for her at some points. But a character in the book summed it up so well when she said that Victoria approached people already apologetic because she (Victoria) didn't feel she was worthy and would find some way to disappoint people. And Victoria spent a large bulk of her time pushing others away often brutally and with lack of emotion because of that. I had to stop at times and think about how I'd view the world if I'd lived Victoria's life. I had to remind myself that people are contradictory by nature.
I'm not a flower person at all, and I was afraid that I'd get bored with this book quickly. I was wrong. I was fully enthralled by what different flowers meant and the way the characters used this knowledge to communicate with each other. I even read the whole glossary of flower meanings in the back once I'd finished the story. I was emotionally invested in what happened to Victoria and the other characters overall and mostly rooted for them to find happiness, peace, and forgiveness. Finding about the one time Victoria almost had it all before it fell apart was tragic. And I appreciated that this book didn't end with "and they live happily ever after." You get the sense that, yes, the healing for everyone has truly begun at the end, but the ending makes it clear that it will be a process as each fear is released to make space for the happy memories to come.