The Language of Flowers - Vanessa Diffenbaugh
I won this ARC via First Reads (many thanks for that).

This novel was absolutely wonderful.  The central character, Victoria, was abandoned at birth and spent her entire childhood in the foster care system.  At the age of 18, she is emancipated and pretty much thrown out into the world, completely unprepared, to make her own way.

This is such a gut wrenching and heartwarming story. You want things to work out for Victoria, but at times, it simply seems impossible. She is afraid to trust, afraid to find herself relying on others and apparently completely unable to love. Through a series of flashbacks, we are also shown how she came to she see herself as totally unworthy of anyone else's love or trust. As I was reading, there were many instances where she made decisions that I found completely illogical, until I realized I was projecting my own background of coming from a loving family. Victoria never had that, and if that variable were taken out of my life, I have no way of knowing how I might have reacted in similar situations.

There are several other characters in the story who try to connect with Victoria, all deeply scarred by their own emotional baggage. I was absolutely absorbed as I read, watching them tentatively reach out to each other, desperate for and at the same time terrified of connecting with someone else.

I read many books that are so rife with cultural references that you have to be a certain age to get.  This is not one of those books.  I can wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good, heartwarming story. I want my mom to read it and I want my 13 and 14 year old daughters to read it - it's that good and has that kind of mass appeal.