"There’s just too much drive and success between the two of us."
"That means the honeymoon phase will last until we’re eighty," he says.

This quote takes place in Chapter Ten, when Ryle and Lily are in their honeymoon phase, both recognizing how busy they each are pursuing their dreams. Though Ryle is joking about the honeymoon phase lasting until they are elderly, he captures something true about the couple’s ambitions. Because Lily and Ryle both have careers that bring them meaning and absorb their energy, their work provides a natural break from the intensity of their romantic relationship. Ryle’s fixation on becoming the best neurosurgeon in the country gives him less energy to spend obsessively courting Lily—and getting possessively and violently jealous of her relationship with Atlas. His career provides an outlet for some of his energy. For Lily, her flower shop increasingly becomes a sanctuary in the midst of her tumultuous relationship with Ryle, the place she goes when she needs to hear herself. It is the place that is hers when her own home stops feeling safe. Lily’s dedication to her career helps her survive her abusive relationship and stand on her own two feet.

I place the flowers on the center display table. "I’m pretty sure this is exactly what I was supposed to do with my life."

This quote takes place in Chapter Twelve, as Lily is creating the centerpiece for her grand opening, a steampunk-themed floral arrangement that encapsulates the vibe of her shop. Throughout Lily’s life, many things don’t go according to plan, and she often notes that her life changes quickly and unexpectedly, often for the worst. Her romantic life is a source of confusion and pain, due to Atlas’s continued absence and Ryle’s abusiveness. But starting a flower shop is exactly what Lily has wanted to do since she was a teenager. With the name Lily Blossom Bloom, it’s almost as though she was destined to open one. And when she does, it’s everything she expected, and more. The success of her shop demonstrates Lily’s self-determination. Her pride and feelings of success help counterbalance the pain of her relationship and help her thrive without any partner for the first year of her daughter’s life.

For the first time, I think I’m genuinely turned on by him as a doctor. I mean, I admire his drive. I admire his dedication. But seeing how excited he is about what he’s doing for a living is seriously sexy.

This quote takes place in Chapter Fourteen, as Ryle tells Lily about a groundbreaking surgery he’s going to scrub in for. This is just before Ryle hurts Lily for the first time and spoils the beginning of their relationship. Here, Lily recognizes how much her attraction to Ryle is tied to his passion for what he’s doing. Similarly, Lily is attracted to Atlas’s drive and his passion for cooking, both as a teenager and as an adult. Lily is drawn to people who are excited about their work, as she is, and she cares less about what people do and more about how much energy they bring to their careers. The work each character does provides respite from the drama of romance and provides Lily, Atlas, and Ryle with a domain all their own that they can thrive in. This theme establishes vocation as an important indicator of independence and self-determination.