The Language of Flowers
by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Victoria Jones grew up in the foster care system and ages out right as the story begins. She has no job, no education, and nowhere to go, but on a whim, demonstrates her skillfulness with flowers to a local florist and lands herself a job designing bridal bouquets and the like. As Victoria continues to work in the florist shop, she earns enough money to live somewhat comfortably, but an encounter with a certain vendor while at the flower market causes Victoria’s present to collide with her past. Grant is the nephew of Victoria’s almost-adoptive mother. The two become friends, but Victoria’s lack of ability to trust and love threatens to destroy the stability that she has created in her life.
I really enjoyed this novel. It is a quick, easy read (it just took me a few days) and it engages the reader right from the beginning. Two things in particular held my attention:
1-The information about the foster system from the point of view of a foster child
Yes, I know it’s a fictional character, and I know Victoria’s experience is unique, but Diffenbaugh’s writing does show some flaws in the system. The lack of relationships that Victoria creates as a child haunt her as an adult in her literal inability to form trusting relationships.
2-The forgotten language of flowers
While Victoria has no understanding of how to relate to other people, she essentially uses her knowledge of flowers to express herself since she has no other method of doing so. Simply knowing the meanings behind flowers and the idea of communicating via bouquets, etc. provides plenty of interest on its own. Throughout the novel, however, the flowers almost become a character themselves; without the flowers, Victoria has no voice and no power. Flowers speak for her when Victoria cannot speak for herself.
This book would make an excellent book club choice or a slightly-weightier beach/vacation read.
Mrs. Ethridge’s Report Card:
My Rating: A-
- well-developed characters
- unique concept
- I specifically enjoyed the Flower Dictionary the author included at the end.
Clean Factor: C
- language: a few instances of R-rated words, typically when Victoria gets frustrated
- one slightly descriptive bedroom scene
Book Clubbishness: A
- good length, easy to read
- lots of talking points, including foster care, parent/child love, etc.