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Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Language of Flowers

The Language of Flowers

Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Ballantine, 2011

Victoria was abandoned as an infant and grew up in a series of foster homes before finally landing in a group home for unmanageable and unwanted girls. Now that she is 18, she is being released from the state’s custody into a transitional home and told that she has 30 days to find employment or she will be evicted and on the street. Victoria chooses to disregard her caseworker’s advice, which is nothing new for her, and makes a series of bad decisions that force her to leave the group home and live in a city park. There Victoria decides to cultivate a secret garden among the vegetation there, tending it and sleeping among her plants.

Once when Victoria was much younger, she lived with a single woman named Elizabeth who owned a vineyard. Elizabeth and Victoria got off to a rocky start, but over time they became a family of sorts. Something happened, however, to stop the adoption that Elizabeth was planning, but we don’t know what it was. We can only assume that Victoria did something so bad, so hurtful, that Elizabeth came to the same conclusion that every other foster family that housed Victoria came to: Victoria was unlovable and unwanted. Through alternating chapters we watch Victoria and Elizabeth learn to trust and love each other, until finally, an event occurs that causes Victoria to end up alone again.

Victoria does not end up living in the park forever, but it takes a lot of time, patience and careful choices that finally enable her to get a job in a flower shop. She may not understand how to talk to humans, but she understands the language of flowers. A customer can explain what they need, and Victoria can find the flower or plant or herb that speaks the words that the customer can’t in order to help them accomplish what they want or need in life. What Victoria doesn’t expect is that she can use the language of flowers herself to connect with another human being, and perhaps find the love and acceptance she never thought she deserved herself.


This is the author’s first novel.

Other titles you may enjoy:

Salvation by Lucia Nevai (2008)
Disadvantaged by poverty, abuse, and a physical deformity, budding scientist Crane Cavanaugh is assigned to a convent and subsequently adopted by a middle-class mother whose adoration is only partly successful in countering Crane's stunted and wryly comic emotional development.

Between Sisters by Kristin Hannah (2003)
With her wedding day approaching, Claire Cavenaugh prepares to confront her estranged older sister and self-absorbed mother after more than twenty years apart and find out how to transform themselves into a family.

The Summer Guest by Justin Cronin (2004)
Nearing the end of his life, financier Harry Wainwright journeys to a rustic fishing camp in Maine and leaves a profound legacy for a haunted young man, a Vietnam draft evader, and a spirited young woman who holds a key to the past.

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