Friday, December 21, 2012

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Summary from Goodreads:
A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.

Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

Read December 2012

Library Book

4.5 Stars

My review:
Several weeks ago, Shannon Hale did a blog post about her favorite reads in 2012.  She asked for comments about which books were our favorite reads.  As I looked over people's comments, I saw the name of this book, The Language of Flowers.  I checked Goodreads for the rating from other readers as well as a summary.  It looked interesting, but not a top choice for me to read, I wasn't running to the library to get a copy.  I didn't think another thing about it until a few days ago when I was at the library (my number 1 stop for books).  On the first display they have their "Here and Now" books (basically I think they are books that are popular, but frankly I'm not sure).  The librarian was adding some books to it.  My eyes were immediately drawn to The Language of Flowers which she had just put on the shelf.  I picked it up, not even remembering exactly what it was about.

This book was an emotional roller coaster for me.  I usually choose books to read that help me escape reality.  If you look at my list of books, there are a lot of historical romance and re-telling of fairy tales.  That is because they are not what life is like now and can take me to another place.  This book did not take me to another place, it was very real.

The main character, Victoria, is a child who was abandoned when only a few weeks old.  She grows up in the Foster Care system.  Some homes are better than others, but mostly it is an extremely difficult childhood.  I have a tender place in my heart for children in foster care.  I have wanted to foster a child so many times and each time my husband and I discuss it, it just isn't right for us.  I want every child to have a home.  I want every child to have parents that love them and cherish them.  To read about this girl who is so abused and lonely and abandoned over and over again just breaks my heart.  I immediately wanted to foster again and wrap my arms around every lonely child I see.  Unfortunately, Victoria has lots of emotional scars from this environment.  She lashes out, makes poor choices, and hurts those around her that are trying to help.

I see 2 main points to this story that really struct me.  

1. We have a choice. We always have a choice to go one direction or another.   We all make mistakes.  Some of them REALLY BIG.  And, we will have to face the consequences, good or bad, that come with that choice that we made.

2. We can be forgiven.  When we make a really bad choice, there is almost always a way to come back and make it better in some way.  It may be really tough and heart wrenching and people may not like us, but we can be forgiven.  (I have personal religious beliefs on this, but I won't go into those in relation to this book.  If you are interested, then let me know).

At times as I was reading this book, I was so upset that Victoria kept making choices that were pulling her further away from those who loved her.  Why was she doing this?  But, I did  not have the same growing up that she did.  Once I let go of what I would do and let her be her, I was able to see her journey a bit better.  And, luckily, the author gave her the opportunity to make her choices, but also gave Victoria friends who loved her and taught her about forgiveness.  There is a wonderful message of forgiveness in this story and being able to start fresh.  I appreciate this.

Warnings: Abandonment, abuse, premarital sex, birthing scene, post birth physical and emotional turmoil

I would not let my 14 year old read this story.  

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