14-year-old Emmeline Rose’s life is in turmoil. Her mum, increasingly unable to cope with the recent deaths of her husband then her mother, has had to be sectioned. Her younger sister’s foster parents have no room for Emmeline so she has to go to a children’s home. Worst of all, Emmeline’s archenemy Stacey witnessed her mum’s meltdown – so everyone at school will know about it.
Over the weeks, though, Emmeline grows to like the children’s home and its assortment of characters – among them her streetwise, paranoid room mate Karra, and Bett Morris who has learning difficulties. As her mum gets better, Emmeline realises that she doesn’t want to leave the children’s home and her new ‘family’. Emmeline’s main problem remains Stacey, whose bullying at school is getting worse, though best friends Megan and Ollie do their best to help her. But after getting a strange ringing sound in her ears, Emmeline discovers she can hear Stacey’s thoughts. Nana Rose was a psychic – is she one too? Her mum soon guesses that Emmeline has developed powers; discussing them leads to a growing closeness between them, and they begin to talk about other important things like Emmeline’s mum’s illness, her dad and her family’s history.
Throughout the story is the presence of white roses – which provide the white petals of the title: Emmeline has a ‘lucky cardigan’ with a white rose on it, there’s a white rose bush in the park near the children’s home which Emmeline loves, and she dreams of white petals. It’s only at the end that we realise their significance.
Told in the first person, this is an interesting, heart-warming story. Emmeline’s an appealing character, not given to self-pity. She appreciates the importance of friendship and family however dysfunctional they may be, and sees that even unpleasant experiences can bring benefits.