Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

genre: adult fiction

Abandoned at birth, Victoria has spent her life in and out foster care and group homes.   With no one and nothing, she ages out of the state's system and ends up on the streets of San Francisco.  Her only hope: to somehow use her knowledge of flowers to make a living for herself.  Staunchly and purposely unlovable, Victoria's only passion is for the meanings of the flowers themselves - the historical language of friendship and love that was communicated through bouquets and single stemmed blooms.  As we watch her slowly, SLOWLY, figure out how to function in adult society, we also learn about her past, about decisions that change everything and how having even just one person love you can be enough.

This isn't an easy tale to read.  Victoria is broken and (for me) it takes a while to feel attached to her as a character, she's so prickly.  Her childhood was so horrible it's almost hard to believe.  No wonder she's broken, never having been in a loving relationship with anyone her entire life.  But the relationships that she DOES end up creating, especially one that we see in her past and in her present, is very satisfying without being saccharine.  I had a hard time sometimes believing the flower-arranging storyline, it felt borderline magical realism to me which caught me in my tracks and made me have to suspend my disbelief, which was jarring.  That being said, I did LIKE it as an intriguing plot element.  I think I liked this book, even if Victoria's decisions sometimes made me just want to shake her.  It's not my usual style of book but I think it will make a good book club discussion.

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1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

Oh yes, it was difficult to love Victoria but I did love the book.

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