Victoria Jones is 18 years old and has just been emancipated from the foster care system of California. Her social worker takes her to a halfway type house, where she can live for 3 months, and after that time she will need to be working and pay her own rent. Victoria has other plans. She is happy to be on her own, happy to find and grow her flowers, happy to be solitary. Victoria lives in the park in the San Francisco area, sleeping under trees, she eats in restaurants when diners leave food on their plates, she scavengers for the little bit in life she has, but she adores her flowers, and all that their meaning is.
The book also moves back to Victoria at about age 9, when her social worker takes her to her last potential foster home to be adopted. Elizabeth is a single woman, but she understands Victoria, and the walls she’s built around her. She teaches her about the language of flowers, what giving each one means, and she teaches her about good grapes, and how they make good wine. Elizabeth truly seems to love Victoria and to make them a family.
Victoria as an 18 year old does meet a florist, Renata, owner of Bloom. She just walks in to her shop and helps her with arrangements one day, and Renata invites her back, their arrangement is unique, but Renata seems to understand Victoria’s solitary life, and that she is without a home. Not to sound like a pun, but Victoria does begin to bloom and grow and become the person she is meant to be, but not without pain and bumps along the way.
I waited a while to read this book. I kept reading wonderful reviews and when one day it was waiting for me in audio at the library, as this is how I see the books or audios I discover at the library, I picked it up and have been so thankful since. The author, Vanessa Diffenbaugh, really found the soul of a young girl and woman, abandoned as a baby and left to suffer in a cruel and often misguided foster system. My heart broke for Victoria, as she was never loved and cared for the way I was, or the way I’ve bestowed such love on my own children. This book takes a long and winding journey, and had me in tears many times. The end is satisfying and full of hope, but not all tied up with a pretty bow, but realistic and positive.
I think I was worried it was more about flowers, and just that, so don’t let the cover or the title hold you back. I did learn so much about the meaning of flowers, and how a flower or bouquet can speak so much more than just the visual beauty. This book is about love, and compassion, and learning how to give and receive both. I listened to the audio of this book, loved the narration. I rated this book a 5 out of 5 stars, I loved it!! I’ve been incredibly lucky this year to be reading so many good books.
Please read more about Vanessa Diffenbaugh at her web site linked above, she is an ardent supporter of children and their transition from foster care. I’m looking forward to more from this author.