Lia, this is gorgeous. I don't know why I hadn't read it until now.
I think the most striking thing about this story is the way you set the tone. The first section - before anything has even happened and before we know what happened to her dad - there's this underlying feeling of emptiness and neglect, and your words are so, so effective. I absolutely love your use of detail, and what particular details you chose to focus on - the sound of the screen door creaking, rusty with disuse; the feel of cold seeping into the house; the sparseness of everything in the house. Honestly it's perfect.
One thing that also stood out to me was the scene where Becca hears about her mother's death and she recalls only the details of the carpet. That rang really true to me because at least in my experience you do tend to remember details of events that have a huge impact on you, and if you're just staring at one thing, that's what you remember. When I got the news of a death in my family via phone call, I was sitting in my car, parked in a lot, and I remember picking at the steering wheel. I remember exactly what that parking lot looked like, and how sunny and hot it was, even though it was years ago. And the way Becca kind of sinks into her own head for a bit there, after she processes it - I feel that. The way you write her emotions and numbness here and her silence as she just goes over it in her head and tunes out the words, are so realistic, so much so that I suspect some of that draws on personal experience, so here's some hugs just in case it does *hug*
It's also noticeable that you don't directly state what exactly happened to her mother, not until later. And that was so effective and really fit into the mood of the story - there's just an emptiness where she used to be.
Your title is perfect, too, by the way. A garden of weeds is kind of the perfect metaphor for neglect, for something that used to be beautiful kind of losing its blooms and starting to fall apart. This story is one of the most profound examinations of the theme of loss and emptiness that I've seen.
And even with all that, you manage to end it on - not a positive note exactly, but a promise that things will get better. It's a little hopeful, like flowers beginning to come back through all the weeds.
You truly have a talent - your writing is incredible. You should be so proud of this story. ♥ Thank you for sharing.
When I finished reading this, I had to sit back and just breathe for a few minutes. The writing is so raw and heartfelt, and every word is so full of meaning that I'm actually so hesitant to write a review, in case I disturb the quality of the work. I feel like this is a piece that I will continually be coming back to and rereading; there is so much written into this that one read-through certainly won't be enough. I've already bookmarked this.
Your writing style is so powerful. I've never come across a better example of repetition of the word "I." Most of your sentences have the word "I" as the subject. To me, the simple and straightforward usage of "I" even as everything in Becca's life slowly begins falling apart made the story sound extremely personal.
The little choices that you included in this story that I found beautifully and intelligently done: naming her stepfather "Georgie-boy" to really focus on the childlike irresponsibility, creating a numbing sort of feeling by holding back from explicitly stating her mother's suicide at its first mention, showing how Becca so selflessly puts her sisters first, and discussing the emptiness of losing her best friend.
This work, as all important pieces should, made me feel uncomfortable. It made me think, and it made me feel, and at the end, I felt all the more distinctly how much there is for me to learn about the struggles of different people. So thank you for writing this, thank you so much. This is beautiful.