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The Light of Hidden Flowers    by Jennifer Handford order for
Light of Hidden Flowers
by Jennifer Handford
Order:  USA  Can
Lake Union, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

Missy Fletcher has lived a calm, predictable life with her father since her mother died suddenly when Missy was four years old. Always intelligent, she also worked hard in school and was thought of as 'the brainy one' as she grew up

Now on her thirty-fifth birthday she mocks her own life. She thinks, 'Happy birthday, Missy Fletcher. Thirty-five years old and you've barely cast a shadow.' She majored in economics in college, even though she was attracted to public policy and felt that 'in her heart {she} was a Peace Corps girl with wanderlust and a dream of bettering conditions in the Third World.' She decided that she would rather stay with her father than travel, and after college, she began working with him in his business, Fletcher Financial, LLC, while finishing an MBA, attaining several licenses, and passing the Chartered Financial Analyst exam with nearly perfect scores. She was a partner in the business and never travelled anywhere, much less joined the Peace Corps. The one time she tried to go to Italy a few years before this, she suffered such acute anxiety after boarding that she had to be escorted off the plane.

She still listens to a Rosetta Stone CD in her car every night on her way home from work, repeating the Italian phrases, and she loves to eat Italian food, in fact she loves everything about Italy, which is why she had attempted to go there on a visit. Her fear of flying is just one of the things that bothers her on her thirty-fifth birthday. She's unmarried, did not even have a boyfriend, and is rapidly approaching an age where she would be unable to have children. She had been serious about her high school boyfriend, Joe, but they drifted apart when they attended different colleges, and he's now married with three daughters.

In fairly short order, her life begins to change in unexpected ways. Her father starts to have memory lapses, and she can't talk him into seeing a doctor, but he keeps having mental blocks during their meetings with clients. Then after one of the firm's client seminars, two longtime clients introduce her to their son, Lucas, who is a tax attorney and also happens to be tall and good-looking. He asks her out and they begin to see each other regularly. Her personal life seems to be moving in a good direction until finally she manages to get her father to a doctor and he is diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

His illness progresses rapidly, and Missy can't understand why he resents her taking care of him and refuses to move in with her. As Missy's carefully managed life begins to fall apart, we also learn about what is going on with Joe. His wife has left him, and one of his daughters is having terrible problems in middle school. Joe wished Missy a happy birthday on FaceBook and they begin messaging back and forth but only reveal the barest information about each of their lives.

The Light of Hidden Flowers goes on from these beginnings to tell about Missy's growth as she deals with her new, challenging life. Missy and the other characters in the book are drawn with sensitivity, and we really care about them as the story progresses to a satisfying conclusion.

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