Sunday, May 8, 2011
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
The Victorian language of flowers was used to express emotions: honeysuckle for devotion, azaleas for passion, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it has been more useful in communicating feelings like grief, mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen, Victoria has nowhere to go, and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. When her talent is discovered by a local florist, she discovers her gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But it takes meeting a mysterious vendor at the flower market for her to realise what's been missing in her own life, and as she starts to fall for him, she's forced to confront a painful secret from her past, and decide whether it's worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness. "The Language of Flowers" is a heartbreaking and redemptive novel about the meaning of flowers, the meaning of family, and the meaning of love.
I was lucky enough to have received this book as an ARE, since it will come out in August. I cannot speak highly enough about this story or about the writing. I read it in a few days, and I was completely captivated from the first few words.
The writing is flawless, the imagery so tightly woven that as you turn the pages you become ensnared in the smell and color of the flowers that haunt the lines. The story itself is a beautiful, honest look at the foster care system, its many, many faults and few positive sides. As a foster mother herself, the author is a perfect voice to speak for these children who are not blessed with families.
The main character, Victoria, is a very special person. She’s hard to get to know and understand, sometimes even making the reader frustrated at her many self-destructive behaviors, but we come to love the way her head works. We root (no pun intended) for her, we grieve for her past and her troubled present and we can’t help but be hopeful about her petal-strewn future.
I recommend this book to everyone. I hope to see lines in front of every bookstore to buy it on the day it comes out. I promise you, you will never think about flowers in the same way again.