Jennifer King's Reviews > The Language of Flowers

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
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's review
Sep 13, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites
Read from December 21 to 26, 2011

"Anyone can grow into something beautiful." This statement appears on some copies of Vanessa Diffenbaugh's heartrending yet luminous debut novel THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS. Having read and loved THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS, I find this short statement to be so true, especially of the main character of the story, Victoria.

The story opens with Victoria on the morning of her official release from being a ward of the state, from living in a girls group home, on the brink of her journey of discovering life, her passion, and the long, winding road toward love and hope. Victoria grew up shuffled in and out of foster homes. Though her growing up was characterized by awful abuse, at age 10, Victoria was loved by one woman who changed her life, even as their time together ended all too soon. As reflected in the title of the book, Victoria spent her late teen years communicating with others in the language of flowers. With a single bouquet, Victoria relates to and evades others through messages made up of flowers. At age 18, as she plants flowers and seeds in improvised places, in shoes, on carpets, in community gardens, she uncovers her passion -- flowers, and how they help people to communicate a message.

Life has damaged Victoria in devastating ways, the least of which is her profound difficulty in relating to other human beings. And though she sabotages attempts others make toward loving her, Victoria gradually opens up in fits and spurts, making progress and regressing, all threaded together with a hope that lures the reader on in the story. The ending does not disappoint, as Ms. Diffenbaugh weaves so well the heartbreak into redemption. This story whispers that even in the most unloveable, unforgivable of pasts, love can triumph. Deep and lavish love at its most beautiful heals Victoria. As I turned the pages of her story, I found myself being healed, as well.

I most highly recommend THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS. I look forward to Ms. Diffenbaugh's future works, and mark her debut as one of my lasting and all-time favorite novels.
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