Tuesday, January 28, 2014

THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS by Vanessa Diffenbaugh - Review

Picture and Description taken 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.

My Review / Thoughts:

I don't quite know how to review this book.  I think my emotions from reading are still kind of all over the place.  It was kind of a tough book to read.  It was good, but man, it was emotional.

Victoria Jones spent her life being shoved from foster home to foster home, until she finally found one that she thought might actually stick.  When she comes to meet Elizabeth, her new foster mom, she does all she can to get kicked out of her house and sent back to a group home.  Victoria has decided she isn't really worthy of  the love of another person.  Elizabeth tries as hard as she can to love Victoria, and in time they come to care for each other.

I really was rooting for Elizabeth, but she disappoints me.  I think in her heart of hearts she really wanted to be a good mom, and to take the next step in adopting Victoria, but when she falls short, my respect for her dropped dramatically.  

When Victoria is finally 18 and kicked out of the group home, she ends up living in a park.  She had been taught by her Foster mother Elizabeth the meaning of flowers, and the importance the meaning had when giving them to someone.  She had become quite good at planting and growing her own little garden in her own makeshift home in the park.  When she finds Renata, a flower shop owner and Renata sees Victoria's talent.  They begin to work together.

I honestly thought that Victoria would finally find some peace and move on with her life.  Then walks in Grant.  She is Elizabeth's nephew and they get to know each other again.  It is such a sweet relationship but Victoria is horrible at relationships.  When life and reality hit that Grant may love her she leaves, and retreats.   As time moves on and Victoria realizes that she actually needs Grant in her life, she finds her way back to him.  I thought it was such a sweet relationship, and I knew that Victoria would screw it up.  When life gets hard she retreats, and that is something I just didn't like about her.  She was obviously a damaged young woman, but I had high hopes for her.

This book was such a roller coaster.  Just when I think Victoria is going to be a responsible adult and move on and break the cycle of heartbreak she has lived with her whole life, she reverts back to her "flight" behavior.  I don't know how to say much more without giving the ending away, but I really did not like her choices.  I think that she didn't have the tools to accept the good things that were happening in her life, as well as the bad.  She dealt much better with the bad, but I think only because that is all she had her whole life.  

The ending is touching, and gave me hope.  I didn't like what it took for Victoria to find her way.  I didn't like many of the choices she made.  It showed me how different a persons life could be without the constant feeling of love around them.  This book was hard to read for me.  It was emotionally exhausting.  It was truly a great book of how a person can overcome the worst of circumstances and find their place in the world, and possibly make up for all the wrong choices they have made.  It's a great story of forgiveness, and love.  

Source:  I borrowed this book from a friend.  I was not compensated in anyway for this review, and these are my owner PERSONAL thoughts on the book.

My Rating:

About the Author:

Picture and bio taken from GoodReads

Vanessa Diffenbaugh was born in San Francisco and raised in Chico, California. After studying creative writing and education at Stanford, she went on to teach art and writing to youth in low-income communities. She and her husband, PK, have three children: Tre’von, eighteen; Chela, four; and Miles, three. Tre’von, a former foster child, is attending New York University on a Gates Millennium Scholarship. Diffenbaugh and her family currently live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where her husband is studying urban school reform at Harvard.

Vanessa Diffenbaugh is also the founder of the Camellia Network. The mission of the Camellia Network is to create a nationwide movement to support youth transitioning from foster care. In The Language of Flowers, Camellia [kuh-meel-yuh] means “My Destiny is in Your Hands.” The network’s name emphasizes the belief in the interconnectedness of humanity: each gift a young person receives will be accompanied by a camellia, a reminder that the destiny of our nation lies in the hands of our youngest citizens. For more information visit www.camellianetwork.org

Where to Buy:


  1. This sounds like it was quite the emotional read for you. I will have to keep it in mind when I need one of these type of reads.

    Great review!

    1. It was, but it turned out to be such a good book!

  2. I feel the same way about reviewing The Elite. I have so many different feels and emotions, I don't know how to get it all down in writing! Great job with your review! I'm off to go and write mine now hopefully =)

    1. There are so many more things I want to say about the book, but I can't without giving everything away. It was hard to read, and hard to review :)

  3. It sounds like a good book, but I don't know that I could handle it. All those ups and downs and heartbreak! Great review!

    1. It was a good read, but it did make me cry. It was heartbreaking, but I am glad I read it.

  4. I have a hard time reading books with characters like that. I suppose it's real, but it's so frustrating to watch them put themselves through the same thing over and over again. But if they can grow by the end it's worth it, it's just getting there.