The Language of Flowers
Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Published: August 23, 2011
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Hardcover: 336 pages
Source: borrowed from the library
My Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis (from goodreads.com): 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.
My Thoughts: Simply put, this is a lovely book. Following Victoria's journey from foster care to a group home through her emancipation, Vanessa Diffenbaugh tells a beautiful story of a young girl coming of age and finding her way, truly alone in the world. She almost had a parent when she went to stay with a woman named Elizabeth, but following a fire, she is removed from the foster home and placed into group homes. Seeing Victoria's struggle to grow up in the foster system is heartbreaking, but Diffenbaugh never makes you feel sorry for her. Instead, you are some how assured that Victoria will be fine, even as she is living in the park as a homeless person.
The characters in this book were simple and straighforward. There was no alterior motives, no secrets brought forth. Even when learning about Victoria's last moments in Elizabeth's home, it's not as if this is a different side that we are seeing from Victoria. She is honest and true, as are all the characters in this novel. There is also little dialogue, reflecting Victoria's internal struggle with herself. The dialogue that is there is simple, moving the story along and not weighing it down with unnecessary information.
I really enjoyed this book and found that the Victorian language of flowers is very interesting. At the end of the book, Diffenbaugh includes a flower dictionary. It was so interesting to read about what each flower means! This is one of the few books that I think would appeal to people who enjoy fiction and YA. It was a great coming of age story with a great set of characters, and it lived up to my expectations (chosen as a Waiting on Wednesday pick back in August).