Thursday, October 11, 2012

Review: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Here is a summary of the book from the Random House website:

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating 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 and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

My Review:
I loved this novel that brought us into the life of young Victoria Jones.  Victoria is lost and alone without any friends or family as she prepares to live on her own.  Now that she is eighteen she is no longer allowed to live in foster homes, leaving her with the responsibility of finding both a job and a home for herself.

Diffenbaugh did a great job of presenting Victoria's life to us within the pages of this book.  The chapters alternated between Victoria's current day struggles and times from her past when she lived in foster homes.  The majority of her past glimpses were from when she lived with a single woman named Elizabeth, who planned on adopting her.  Victoria only lived with Elizabeth for a year, but their time together was special and it left quite an impact on the person Victoria would become.

Victoria turned into quite a tough cookie, never staying in one house too long, and usually not being treated very nicely either.  This shows through as she tries to start her adult life, living day to day, not making any plans for the future and just falling asleep wherever her head may lay.  How could she know that the knowledge of flowers that Elizabeth taught her all those years ago would help her get a leg up in this hard world.

One day while wandering the streets in search of a job, Victoria is drawn to a small flower shop called Bloom. After showing the owner, Renata, a sample of the floral gifts she can create, she is offered a temporary job.  This allows Victoria the chance to express herself in a way that helps her find the person that she wants to become.

This story flowed very nicely, making me want to get back to reading it right after I set it down.  So much more happens in this book than I have described above, but I don't want to give any more away.  I found myself pitying Victoria as she made foolish mistakes as a young woman, but then cheering her on when she figured out what she needed to do to make things right.  It wasn't all rainbows and butterflies, but it did leave me with a happy feeling as I read the last page.  With themes of love, forgiveness, family, and survival this book would make for a great book club discussion or just to read at your own leisure.  I don't hesitate in recommending this novel.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This book was provided to me from LibraryThing as part of the Early Reviewers Program in exchange for an honest review. 



bermudaonion said...

I loved this book too - I have a feeling it will be one of my favorites of the year.

Carrie K. said...

This was one of my favorites this year, too! Loved it on audio.

Nise' said...

I loved this one too! It will be on my favorite list as well.

Ti said...

It was a great a book. A lot more complex than it seemed.

Montgomeryepam said...

It was a great a book. A lot more complex than it seemed.