Book: The Language of Flowers
Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Genre: Fiction/Family/Meaning of Love
Summary: Acacia for secret love, daffodil for new beginnings, wisteria for welcome, and camellia for my destiny is in your hands. In Victorian times, the language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions. 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 change at happiness. - Ballatine Books, 2011.
This book is one of the best I have read in a long time. It struck a deep part of myself that made this both painful, but necessary to read, as it was for a kind of healing and realization I had to have. I won't go into the personal reasons for why this book was necessary and enjoyable to read. I'll stick to a general review on this.
This is a bittersweet and heartbreaking story that is beautifully written. It has many layers and they are all united very well. Everything is connected and purposeful. As always, this review will be spoiler-free.
Victoria Jones is a girl with more than a chip on her shoulder. She is a girl who has never known love. Given up by her birth parents to the foster care system, she has been passed around foster homes all of her life until she is emancipated from the system at eighteen years of age. Homeless and jobless, Victoria has to make her way in a world that, to her, has been against her all of her life. Using her survivalist instincts, she triggers a series of events that forces her to look at the one moment in her life where happiness seemed so close and whether she can truly accept unconditional, pure love in her life. It's a wonderful story about the meaning of family, how people earn and give love, and forgiveness.
Victoria herself is an endearing (in a quirky way), unique voice that you don't encounter often. You can really feel the emptiness inside of her; the firm, yet tragic belief that she is undeserving and incapable of love. You can't help but wish for her to simply open herself up to possibility of real love so she can be happy, but it's not so easy for her. I liked that she and her motivations, her character, were kept consistent throughout the novel with believable change and growth. She and the other characters are so real, so genuine that you can visualize them clearly in your mind.
The writing was very good and the setting was so vivid that I could see San Francisco come to life. I could feel the heat, smell the fresh earth, and see the glittering lights of the city. This book was like an adult combination of The Secret Garden and Kiki's Delivery Service.
I truly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in it. It can be a hard read, but an educational one. It really makes one think about life and the value of human relationships.
I give The Language of Flowers an A+.
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Thanks for reading!