I slipped the book into my bag one day thinking I could simply read a few pages and put it down. But The Language of Flowers turned out to be a book of the best and most addicting kind: one with a world so vivid, a protagonist so interesting and real, and a style of writing so transparent that I forgot I was even reading at all. The Language of Flowers is the type of book I love to recommend and pass on.
The title speaks of a theme in the book, the historic Victorian manner of communicating meanings through flowers. For me, a flower-lover, the title drew me to the book, as some titles do for some readers. But the story in The Language of Flowers is much more than for flower-lovers.
My heart tugged and stretched while reading the story of Victoria Jones, an eighteen-year-old girl who ages out of the foster care system. The book begins as she leaves her last group home with her social worker, and chronicles her struggle to overcome the bruises of her past as she fights to make it in the real world. In fluid chapters, the story alternates between events in Victoria’s past and her life as it unfolds in the present.
Victoria progresses and regresses, often sabotaging others’ attempts at loving her, but her gift, working with flowers, provides a way of communicating her feelings. Hang on through the ups and downs. The ending is beautiful, powerful, and redemptive.
To me, a sign of a great book is how it opens a new window to the world and gives the reader a new perspective. At Great New Books, we believe words have the power to change us, and open doors to a better world. The Language of Flowers does just that.
The author, Vanessa Diffenbaugh, is involved with The Camellia Network (camellianetwork.org), a support net(work) for youth aging out of the foster care system. Through an engaging website, The Camellia Network provides simple avenues for reaching out and helping youths like Victoria.
This story whispers that even with the most broken of pasts, with the most unforgivable of actions, “anyone can grow into someone beautiful”.
For you: Have you read The Language of Flowers? What did you think? We’d love to talk about it with you here … Thanks!