The Language of Flowers – Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Genre: Contemporary; Coming of Age
Summary: Eighteen-year-old Victoria Jones has just aged out of the foster-care system. Having neither money nor friends to speak of, Victoria is forced to become self-reliant as she tries to establish a life for herself. While she doesn’t have any work experience, Victoria has one very unique skill: she has memorized the meaning of every flower in existence. After she meets a florist who is willing to give her a job, Victoria helps customers determine what kind of bouquets they would like based on what the various flowers symbolize. Even though life has been hard so far, can Victoria finally settle into a normal routine?
Review: Oooh look, I’m behind on reviews again. While sitting in my shame corner, I decided that this business will be stopped right now…and by right now, I mean over the course of the upcoming week because I am easily distracted by the interwebz, food, and shiny things. Wah wah.
Anyway, here is my review:
The concept of this book, a young woman’s quest to extract meaning from flowers and establish a life completely on her own, was a rather fascinating one and is what initially drew me to The Language of Flowers. In the past, I remember reading somewhere that all flowers have meaning, and when combined with a coming-of-age tale, The Language of Flowers promised to be incredibly interesting. On the whole, I really enjoyed this book and found it to be a rather absorbing read.
The greatest strength of The Language of Flowers was definitely the writing itself. Diffenbaugh is an incredibly skilled writer, and it was easy to become engrossed in the novel while reading such smooth, effortless sentences. The descriptions therein were really well done, and I could easily imagine the scenes she was describing. I also loved that Diffenbaugh included the meanings of different flowers both in the text and as a glossary near the back of the book; it was fun to discover what each one meant, especially those that have always been favorites.
As far as characters go, I’m still not sure how I feel about Victoria. It was hard to get to know her because she was so closed off and distant, even in her own story. I oftentimes felt a lot of sympathy for her lot in life, though, and I could completely understand where her coldness came from. Some of her actions, however, were inexcusable to me, especially towards the latter part of the book, and my sympathy really started to wane.
As for other characters, Renata was a standout for me, and I really liked her no-nonsense attitude. I thought it was great that she gave Victoria a chance, even though she didn’t really have to. I also really liked Grant, and found him to be incredibly sweet and sincere. A lot of the events he was forced to endure at the hands of a certain other character really made me sad for him.
Warning: this little section is going to be a bit of a spoiler, so avert your eyes if you haven’t read the book yet: I hate posting spoilers, but I feel like I have to mention this. The portion of this book dedicated to breast feeding really made me squeamish. Perhaps it’s because I’m not a mother and can’t really relate to it at all, but I thought it was just a bit overdone. This part is what actually dropped my initial rating of 4 stars to 3.5 because I just didn’t enjoy it at all. While I do understand that it was a deciding factor in Victoria’s decision about the baby, I just didn’t think it needed to be as prolonged as it was. End of spoiler.
The Language of Flowers moved along at a nice pace, and was a rather absorbing read. If you enjoy contemporary literature that’s a bit on the sadder side, you may enjoy this book, too.
Rating: 3.5/5 (I oscillated between 3 and 4 for awhile, so I thought 3.5 would be the best choice).