The Language of Flowers was recommended to me by a coworker, and I bought it a week before my birthday as a birthday present to myself. This is definitely a present of a book; it leaves a message on your heart and in your mind that will be hard for me to forget.
The book is about a young girl who was abandoned by her mother when she was a newborn. Raised in foster care, Victoria experienced some horrible homes before finding one with a woman, Elizabeth, who wanted a family and saw a little bit of herself in the 10-year-old girl. That’s where Victoria learns about the Victorian language of flowers, and lives in the only place she ever could consider a home. Her judgement is flawed in many of the choices she makes. Through a series of events, she ends up back in a series of group homes until she turns 18 and is turned out on her own. Along her journey, she learns about love, trust, and the true meaning of family.
The description on the back of the book sums it up probably better than I can:
Acacia for secret love, daffodil for new beginnings, wisteria for welcome, and camellia for my destiny is in your hands. In Victorian times, the language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she finds it difficult to connect to people, and her only solace is in flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and on her own, Victoria spends her first few nights in a public park, where she plants and tends a small garden. Soon, a local florist recognizes Victoria’s gift for helping others through the flowers she selects for them. But a mysterious encounter causes Victoria to realize what’s been missing from 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.
This is Diffenbaugh’s fiction debut, and I have to say, I would love to read more from her. She interweaves Victoria’s back story, from when she young and living with Elizabeth, with her current life at 18 years old. While every other chapter jumped back and forth, the story always advanced, and you learned to care for the characters and keep hoping even while the characters couldn’t experience that hope themselves. While I don’t completely relate to Victoria, as I’m a lot more trusting of people, I think everyone can relate to her feeling unworthy at times, feeling like you’re not good enough for something. She had basically been confronted with that and told that her whole life, and that would be a difficult to overcome.
I also love the flower definition dictionary at the back of the book. I found out that one of the flowers I used in my wedding – delphiniums – mean levity. Since levity basically means laughter, I’ll take the happier definition of the word and mean that I wanted our marriage to be filled with laughter. While the dictionary didn’t have my shasta daisy in there, the gerbera daisy means cheerfulness, which is good for a marriage, as well. So I think I picked well, despite not looking up those things beforehand.
All in all, this is an amazing book, and I would encourage mature young adults and older to read it.