I am so excited that WE THE WILDFLOWERS by L.B. Simmons is releasing one week from today and that I get to share the news!
“Their strength and ferocity stem from below the surface where their roots are forever tangled, interwoven in such a way that for the remainder of time they bloom together …”
No one loves them, no one cares about them, no one even sees them until they end up in Mary Rodriguez’s home, an outpost for Sacred Heart’s troubled youth program. It is within these walls that the four teens forge unlikely friendships. They experience the intensity of first loves, share secrets, and suffer losses, vowing to make the world a better place in spite of their personal battles with addiction, depression, loneliness, and abuse. But when the unthinkable happens, those friendships are tested in ways they never could have imagined.
Will they find strength enough to survive or will their bonds be too fractured to heal them yet again?
We, the Wildflowers is a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection.
“It’s difficult to imagine anything more damaging than knowing your parents want nothing to do with you, so when Chloe’s life is signed away to a program for troubled youth, she goes silently. It’s there that she learns to truly “see” others and there that she is finally seen, too, by the loving Mrs. Rodriquez, who runs the program, and by Adam, Genny, and Lukas, her fiercely loyal wildflowers, who form a friendship holding all the love and acceptance they all could ever need. But in the wake of sudden change, all the progress they’ve made is about to be upended. In this story of misfits, Simmons evokes the spectrum of emotions her readers have come to expect from her. Writing teens who have otherwise been discarded ultimately finding purpose, Simmons sculpts characters who are damaged but introspective, pained by their past but in pursuit of meaning in their future. Readers will revel in the slow-budding romance, sympathize with the insurmountable pain, and be lifted by endless pages of resilience. Hand to fans of character-driven stories of growth.” — Mahjabeen Syed, Booklist
The seasons play an important and meaningful role in We, the Wildflowers.
The Wildflowers find commonality with each other and even name themselves after a resilient patch of wildflowers they visit at their pond. Because of this, they too are affected by seasons. Each season in the book represents not only the actual season at the time the story is happening, but also the emotional state of the Wildflowers themselves.
A lot of growth tends to happen for the Wildflowers in spring, in summer they find confidence and start to really bloom, fall brings uncertainty and a tinge of fear, while winter brings devastation they could never imagine. Then the cycle begins again.
I think we all face seasons as we live our lives, and the idea behind showcasing them in this book is to remind people that yes, you may face your winter or winters even, but strength can be found in the knowledge that spring isn’t far behind. It too will come.
Excerpt from We, the Wildflowers Chapter 9 pages 76 – 81
Genny rises, flicks the light on, and signals with a jerk of her head. “This way.” Single file, we follow her through the long blades of grass. Interspersed are several patches of light purple and pink wildflowers. I try not to step on them as we walk.
Several minutes later, we finally arrive at our destination. On a muddy bank lining the pond, our small patch of wildflowers is in full bloom, the stark white petals differing from the many other colorful blossoms that have overtaken the field behind us. They bend and bow with an oncoming breeze, and I smile, picturing them waving at us as if cheerfully greeting old friends. Genny grins with similar recognition. Slowly, she crouches to the ground, lovingly curling her fingers around the blossom of the closest wildflower. “Lukas.”
He begins to take a step forward, but halts suddenly, his expression taut across his face. He stares at the ground in contemplation before turning to face me.
Taken completely by surprise, I can do nothing but gape as he curls his fingers under the hem of his hoodie and whips it over his head in one swift movement.
It’s quite possibly the sexiest thing I’ve ever witnessed. To make matters worse, I’m ogling the movement of his muscles beneath his white T-shirt as he wordlessly shoves the hoodie in my face. Even Adam is helpless facing this glorious display. He exhales sharply next to me, and I elbow him in the ribs. And then, the impossible happens. Because standing in front of me, Lukas holds my eyes for a brief moment, then—I kid you not—he shakes his head and…grins.
Teeth flash, and Lord help me, a dimple sinks deep into his left cheek. Adam and I sigh in unison, which only serves to broaden his smile.
And in this moment, I know I’m totally and utterly screwed.
My entire body crackles as I take hold of his offering, the body heat trapped in his hoodie instantly warming my hands. It smells like him. And I know with absolute certainty I was right.
A simple smile from Lukas White is most certainly enough to sustain a thousand broken souls. Mine included. He looks back to the ground. “You’re cold.”
“Thank you,” I respond, smiling meekly in appreciation.
He silently acknowledges my gratitude with a dip of his head before turning back to Genny. She’s looking at me, her grin unconcealed.
When Lukas slowly kneels beside her, I lift the hoodie to slide it over my head. Adam chuckles beside me, elbowing me in the ribs this time while I’m defenseless. I curse him from within the heavenly confines of the hoodie before poking my head through the neck hole and pushing my arms through the sleeves.
Ignoring us, Genny wisely continues with the introductions. “Lukas, these are our wildflowers. Our namesakes.” She gestures to the field behind us, brimming with colored blossoms. “You see, every one of these flowers will eventually succumb to the seasons’ brutality. Mark my words, all will be worn down by extreme heat and by the middle of summer, they’ll be gone. Every single one.”
Her hand stalls on the white flowers still dancing happily in the breeze beside her. “Except these badasses, because they’re stubborn. Resilient. They will last long after the others are gone. Like us, they continue to flourish in defiance of the demanding seasons. Their strength and ferocity stem from below the surface where their roots are forever tangled, interwoven in such a way that for the remainder of time they will bloom together, and when winter finally prevails, they perish as one. But even in death they remain connected, thriving within the comfort only they can provide each other, until spring brings them to life once again.” Genny angles her head and smiles lovingly at the wildflowers, then cups an open blossom between her hands.
After a silent moment shared between the two, she releases it and looks to Lukas. “Wildflowers, this is Lukas. He’s one of us.”
Without another word, she rises and steps away, allowing ample time for Lukas to familiarize himself with the flowers in question. My teeth sink into my bottom lip as I watch him reach forward and timidly brush the velvety petals with the tip of his finger. His hardened expression relaxes, and when the flower cheerfully waves back at him, the corner of his mouth lifts, softening it further.
God, he’s beautiful.
I take a quick sharp breath, to make sure I can still breathe.
He gives the flower another gentle stroke, then gingerly trails his finger down the stem. Once through, he remains crouched in a silent moment of kindred connection, then after another meaningful touch of the white petal, he rises. And I as watch the encounter, the oddest thing happens. Or maybe I just imagine it.
But I could swear that the flower stills, then with all its tiny might, lengthens its stem to follow him as he stands. She stretches herself to her limit, but sadly, she cannot follow. Eventually she concedes, drooping in defeat when he turns away before giving him a despondent wave goodbye. I offer her a sympathetic grin.
I know how you feel, my friend.
As soon as Lukas has risen to his full height, Genny pins each of us with a lengthy stare. “We, the four of us, are bound together by our own horrific pasts. But within this group, we find solace in each other because only we can truly comprehend the devastation endured. And the devastation we will endure. Because the truth is, winter is inevitable. But I find comfort in the fact that we have each other to hold on to until spring finds us once again.” She glances at the patch of white flowers then back to Lukas. “So yeah. The very definition of being a Wildflower is just that. We’re bound so closely that your pain is our
pain. Your story is no longer just yours to bear—it’s ours. And when winter strikes any of us, we perish together knowing we will rise together as well. We are four, but we are one. And together, there’s nothing we can’t overcome.” Genny’s face splits into a wide, shit-eating grin as she concludes, “Plus, I’m Genesis. I’m the creator. So, you really don’t have a say. You just are.”
I roll my eyes and shake my head.
Adam barks a laugh.
Lukas remains silent, but his gaze drops to the wildflowers before it lifts to meet our eyes. And when he finds mine, I know her message has been received loud and clear. Vulnerable Lukas looks back at me.
And although we’ve always known he would, he now has finally accepted his fate.
As the Fourth and final Wildflower.
After graduating from Texas A&M University, L.B. Simmons did what any biomedical science major could do. She entered the workforce as a full-time chemist. Years later, never in her wildest dreams would she have imagined herself a USA Today Bestselling contemporary romance author as well.
What began as a memoir for her children, ended up being her first self-published book, Running on Empty. Initially it was written to chronicle their actions, their phrases, and their silly arguments so that when they were older, they would always have those memories. The memoir soon began to take on a life of its own, morphing into the story of a single mother with three little girls finding love when she least expected it. Soon after, her girls were given reoccurring roles in the remainder of what became the Mending Hearts series.
That’s how her journey as an author began, and she hopes to God it never ends.
L.B. Simmons doesn’t just write books. With each new work, she attempts to compose journeys of love and self-discovery so she may impart life lessons to readers. Several novels later, she’s tackled suicide, depression, bullying, eating disorders, as well as physical and sexual abuse, all the while weaving elements of humor into the storylines in effort to balance the difficult topics. Often described as roller coaster rides, her novels are known for eliciting a wide range of emotions in each story she tells.