Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Book Review: The Language of Flowers

By Cindy Roesel
THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS is Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s debut novel. It opens with 18-year old, Victoria Jones striking out on her own after a lifetime of living in the foster home system. The angry and distrustful former ward of the state had only one opportunity at being adopted which failed when she was ten. For most of her eighteen years, she has bounced around group homes. Victoria has been hurt to the breaking point and believes she’s flawed beyond anyone’s love.

At 18, it’s an interesting juxtaposition that Victoria finds herself homeless, sleeping in parks and working odd jobs. It’s at this point she taps into memories of her childhood when she briefly lived with her former-foster mother, Elizabeth and learned about the Victorian-era language of flowers, which now helps her get a job at a flower shop.

“Now, as an adult, my hopes for the future were simple: I wanted to be alone, and to be surrounded by flowers. It seemed, finally, that I might get exactly what I wanted”.

THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS is about coming to terms with the past and moving toward the future – even when a chance discovery shakes her fragile sense of identity and threatens to destroy the little she’s accomplished. Vanessa Diffenbaugh, herself a foster mother, clearly knows both the human heart and plants and she keeps us cheering for Victoria who eventually comes to understand that “the unattached, the unwanted, the unloved, could grow to give love as lushly as anyone else.”

THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS is written with a touch of magical realism. It’s like reading a whimsical fairytale bouquet of relationships between mothers, daughters, friends and lovers. I simply could not put it down. In the language of flowers, camellia means my destiny in is your hands. Vanessa Diffenbaugh has created the Camellia Network in order to create a nationwide movement to support youth making the transition from foster care to independence. You can get more information at www.camellianetwork.org or can contact Vanessa at her Facebook page. I simply can’t wait for her next novel.

1 comment:

Lucie Simone said...

This book sounds really wonderful. Just like White Oleander, I'm sure it will have me wanting to adopt a foster child!