The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

 

Victoria Jones grew up in the foster care system. On her eighteen birthday she’s finally free and is set up in a halfway home. Ignoring her social worker she runs away from the safe house, and creates a garden for which she hides in the local park. Flowers have always been her safe haven as the Victorians used flowers to communicate secret messages. They also don’t talk back or tell her how she should be living her life.

When Victoria impresses a florist with her natural talent of flowers, she finds herself living an almost normal life. Yet with positive step, the past creeps up as horrible secrets threaten her sanity. Unable to trust the world she throws herself into the flowers looking for answers. When someone bursts back into her life, Victoria must come face to face with her regrets to find her future.

The Language of Flowers is simply stunning. The chapters alternate between the past and the present, creating an itch that can only be soothed by turning the page. Victoria’s voice is loud and clear no matter what age she’s being written about. The deepest fears a foster child feels is astoundingly expressed through the novel with simplistic realism that makes the book hard to put down. Diffenbaugh has down her research and it clearly shows, bringing a dead language new life giving this tale a sweet sadness.

Although perhaps not practical, the story is so engrossing it can’t be helped but enjoyed and relished. The drama of Victoria’s life is a different sort to relate to, with her issues being deeply rooted. The story is told beautifully as a young girl grows from a troubled teen to a strong sunflower. You don’t have to know anything about the Victorian period to appreciate the charm and care that this book provides, and it might even make you look at flowers just a bit differently.

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