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The Language of Flowers by Vanessa…
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The Language of Flowers

by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,4123532,243 (3.96)1 / 181
  1. 60
    The Language of Flowers: a Miscellany by Mandy Kirkby (guurtjesboekenkast)
  2. 20
    Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (tangledthread)
    tangledthread: Similar story of a young woman aging out of the foster care system.
  3. 10
    The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (KatyBee)
    KatyBee: Excellent writing, main female character has a very unique 'gift'.
  4. 00
    How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr (treadsowell)
  5. 00
    Like Family: Growing Up in Other People's Houses by Paula McLain (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Like Family is a memoir that traces the difficulties of being a foster child in California. Like The Language of Flowers, it provides readers with a moving account of young girls who triumph over adversity to find happiness as adults.
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English (350)  German (4)  Dutch (3)  Italian (2)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (362)
Showing 1-5 of 350 (next | show all)
Books about people with messed up lives are not my usual choice, but I really enjoyed this one. I didn't quite buy the last couple of chapters but I was hooked by then. ( )
  JanetNoRules | Sep 17, 2018 |
I haven't read a book in a day and a half in ages! This grabbed me from the first page and didn't let me go. The storyline is fantastic. I laughed, cried and enjoyed every word. ( )
  cubsfan3410 | Sep 1, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Language of Flowers revolves around Victoria, a *irl who ages out of the foster care system and discovers she has a talent for knowing what the hidden meanings of flowers are and which flower is appropriate for which situation. This is a beautifully written book and one of my all time favorites. ( )
  cdyankeefan | Aug 25, 2018 |
This book is about a girl called Victoria who grew up in a series of foster homes finally ending up in a group home. This is her story of how she, in the end blossomed and became someone very beautiful.

When I started this book I was very excited about reading it particularly when I saw the glossary of the meanings of different flowers mentioned in the book. Unfortunately, my excitement was to be short-lived.

Right from the word go I found myself frustrated and annoyed by Victoria. She seemed to have been stuck in an almost never ending cycle of self-destruction. Perhaps this came from having been moved from pillar to post for her whole life.

I also found this book hard to connect with which makes reading a book for me very arduous at the best of times. I also wasn't entirely clear about the ending of the book.

Having said the above I still thought it was worthy of 3 stars even though I really wanted to give it a lot more than that before I started to read it. ( )
  zarasecker18 | Aug 22, 2018 |
Vanessa Diffenbaugh makes her debut as an author with “The Language of Flowers”. A tragic story about a teenager named Victoria Jones, we are taken on a journey through her painful past, which holds a dark secret. This secret threatens to hurt the handsome flower vendor, Grant, who she knew as a child and Elizabeth, her ex-foster mother. Being kicked out on the streets we see the world through Victoria's eyes as she struggles on her road to redemption. Getting a job at a local flower shop, she becomes popular with couples and those seeking love as she uses the Victorian Language of Flowers to channel special messages in her flower arrangements. Giving into a shot of love with Grant, she finds herself pregnant and her fears of love and intimacy come back full force. This causes her to abandon her child, hoping Grant will be the better parent and she tries to live with the mistakes she has made. She cannot push away her desire for a family, so she must ask for forgiveness and accept that she can love herself and others before she can make things right again. By the end of the novel you'll be on the edge of your seat, dying to know if Victoria can learn to give love generously and without question.
Diffenbaugh uses transitioning from past to present through most of the novel so the reader can get a look at Victoria's past, which is extremely important to the story. By getting a glimpse into the most important parts of her childhood, we learn that she was abused by being passed around in the foster care system. We get insight as to how Elizabeth's actions hurt Victoria and caused her to lash out and be removed from Elizabeth's care. All the parts of the past show us why she is the kind of person she is in the present as the novel progresses. Diffenbaugh also neatly splits up the novel into four sections, with a different point of conflict in each one. Part one deals with Victoria being homeless at eighteen as well as meeting Grant, while the past shows us her being placed in Elizabeth's care. Part two shows us the budding relationship between her and Grant, how Elizabeth hurt her feelings and what we assume is the end of the relationship with Grant. Part thee focuses on Victoria's pregnancy and trying to be a good mother to baby Hazel, while the past shows us the secret she's been keeping bottled up for over a decade. Part four brings everything together so that Victoria has a chance to make things right again with all the people she has hurt.
With these writing techniques, Diffenbaugh effectively creates a natural flow between childhood and young adulthood, as well as bringing all the important pieces of the character's life together so that we can end the novel seeing that our beloved Victoria has indeed become a changed woman. By the end we understand why she makes all the mistakes she does, why she's afraid of giving and receiving love. We know why she gives up her daughter and why she tries fix things so she can become a better person. Without detailing her past, we would have a harder time understanding Victoria's present actions. It gives the character more depth and complexity than just saying she is the way she is just because of a bad childhood.
First person narrative is used to gain sympathy from the readers. We get this intense bond with Victoria that I feel wouldn't have been effective if Diffenbaugh had gone with third person instead. You feel this amazing closeness to her character, like you want to take her under your wing and protect her but at the same time you want to shout at her to get her act together before it's too late. This bond Diffenbaugh manages to create is just phenomenal, you can relate to every emotion Victoria experiences, even if you haven't been through the situation she's in. But even in a first person narrative, Diffenbaugh doesn't give her secondary characters the short end of the stick. She creates beautifully distinct personalities for all of them, as if they were real people and they all get their time to shine with Victoria. All of this manages to highlight the fact that Diffenbaugh is a gifted writer who goes above and beyond to create characters as realistic as possible. They're not generic and they're not stereotypical.
Let's not forget the Language of Flowers. Victoria's obsession with it as well as how she works with flowers allows us to see a softer side of her. She's hardened on the outside from years of abuse and being tossed around in the system but when she's around flowers she's a different person. Certain flowers are also used as symbols throughout the novel. Yellow roses, symbolizing jealousy and infidelity, are a reoccurring reminder of Elizabeth's own painful secret and a reminder of why Victoria was taken away from her. White roses, heart unacquainted with love, pop up as Grant and Victoria develop feelings for one another. Victoria has a soft spot for thistle, which is general hatred for people, because all she has ever known is anger and hatred. Moss pops up as a symbol of maternal love, giving Victoria the hope that some day she can be a loving mother. But Victoria uses her knowledge of the Language of Flowers to bring couples together as well as other loved ones. She becomes highly in demand as people start to actually believe her flower arrangements must have some magic-like properties to them. It also brings her and Elizabeth together in the beginning as she's interested in learning what all the flowers mean, and it brings her and Grant together as they argue over the true meaning of each individual flower over many days and nights.
Diffenbaugh accomplishes showing emotions through the flowers for people who have a hard time showing emotions willingly. She shows that flowers can bring people together as well as tear them apart. But what she successfully does is write the long forgotten language in a way that is simple for her readers to understand and pick up on, even including a short excerpt from her own book in the back of the novel. She proves that the Language of Flowers isn't just for poetry and the Victorian era. It's something anyone can learn and with it, it might spark a new appreciation for nature.
Vanessa Diffenbaugh uses first-hand experience on her subjects to craft a beautifully written book about a tragic young woman who just wants a family of her own. Between the flowers we see love bloom, the hesitation towards motherhood and forgiveness after decades of hurting. An imperfect family slowly comes together. The story is both heartwarming and heartbreaking and Diffenbaugh captures every aspect of a realistic relationship between two young people who have never experienced love before. She portrays the foster care system and the struggles to adopt for what they really are, there's no exaggerating the truth. Blending together all the elements she chose to put in this book, the reader is easily sucked in from the first page and I most definitely relished every moment of reading this book. I hope to see more books written by Diffenbaugh in the future. ( )
1 vote sweetmotherofodin | Jun 13, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 350 (next | show all)
At first blush it sounds like something Dickens might have come up with, had Dickens been deeply interested in flower arranging.
 
In this absorbing and delicately wrought debut novel, Diffenbaugh heeds the creative-writing maxim: Write what you know. She has been a foster mother and has taught art and writing in low-income communities.This experience is discernible in The Language of Flowers. The idea that an angry young girl such as Victoria would actually be interested in flowers and their meanings seems implausible on one level, and yet Diffenbaugh uses to good effect the belief that evergreen hope lies nascent within most damaged kids.
 
In the end, she offers a cautionary tale about what happens to kids who've grown without families, one that strives to be honest but still hopeful. Children like Victoria may be able to survive on their own, but in order to do better than that - to thrive - they need support. But it's never too late to learn how to love.
added by Nickelini | editSF Gate, Malena Watrous (Aug 21, 2011)
 

» Add other authors (34 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vanessa Diffenbaughprimary authorall editionscalculated
Rovira Ortega, GemmaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rovira, GemmaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Moss is selected to be the emblem of maternal love, because, like that love, it glads the heart when the winter of adversity overtakes us, and when summer friends have deserted us. 
   — Henrietta Dumont, The Floral Offering
Dedication
For PK
First words
For eight years I dreamed of fire.
Quotations
You can't poison me or give me medicine I don't want. Or hit me — even if I deserve it.
Now, as an adult, my hopes for the future were simple: I wanted to be alone, and to be surrounded by flowers.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Discovering the symbolic meanings of flowers while languishing in the foster-care system, eighteen-year-old Victoria is hired by a florist when her talent for helping others is discovered, a situation that leads her to confront a painful secret from her past.… (more)

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