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September 2020: Psychological > The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh - 5 stars and hearts

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message 1: by Barbara M (last edited Sep 09, 2020 08:45AM) (new)

Barbara M (barbara-m) | 2275 comments **Poll Ballot**

This is the story of a girl, Victoria, who is being emancipated from the foster care system at the age of 18. She's been in the system her whole life having been abandoned by her mother as an infant. She's not easy to love, she has a lot of anger that is actually often directed inward but displayed outwardly; therefore she never stays in one place for very long. She's taken to a half-way house and given some money to get her started plus no rent for a period while she gets her self settled. During that time she's expected to get a job and start paying rent in order to stay. The reader has little faith from what little you glean in that first chapter that Victoria will succeed.

The story takes you through a couple of years of Victoria's life as she finds her way. Victoria's story goes into her past and then back to the present in almost alternating chapters. Mostly it takes you back to her relationship with Elizabeth when Victoria is 10 years old. It was interesting to me that there are no nicknames. Its always the full name in this book with one exception. It's always Victoria not Vicky, or Elizabeth not Beth or Betty or Liz, it's Catherine not Cathy, and so forth.

The one thing that brings Victoria joy are flowers and the meanings behind them. She learns that from Elizabeth and it directs her future. This is a book about damaged people but it is also very uplifting but not in a sweet or spiritual way. The language of flowers is almost magical in Victoria's hands but this is not magical realism by any stretch. A funny quirk in Victoria is her insane hunger, she can eat huge amounts of food when it's available. Perhaps because she's so often not had enough, she eats until she suffers a food coma! The offer of food will often entice her to be part of something she would normally avoid. At one point she was "was in the mood for holiday food if not holiday cheer."

I loved the imagery in this book! It sparkled. I find this particularly wonderful in a debut novel.

"I hurled the gloves down the stairs, and they landed like forgotten hands in the dirt."

"The sky was undecided, alternating orange and blue behind approaching thunderclouds, full of the nervous anticipation of rain." (my italics)

This is one of my favorites of the year.


message 2: by Holly R W (new)

Holly R W | 1388 comments Beautiful review! I relived the experience of reading the book through it. The book of course, is about a lot more than flowers, but I enjoyed learning the meanings and messages they can convey.


message 3: by NancyJ (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5575 comments Excellent review. You brought back great memories for me. I put it on my library request list just in case I can fit it in.

Did either of you listen to the audio? I don't recall if I read it or listened to it the first time.


message 4: by Holly R W (last edited Sep 08, 2020 06:06PM) (new)

Holly R W | 1388 comments Nancy, I read the book.


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