May 24, 2012
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Victoria Jones is unprepared when she turns 18 years-old. As a foster child living in a group home, this marks the day that she begins her adult life. She has several months in a transitional home to find a job and a place to live.
All Victoria knows is flowers. Not only can she name most every flower she sees, she knows the meaning behind the flowers.
After spending some time sleeping in a park, Victoria uses her knowledge to get a job with a florist. Normally, Victoria helps purchase and arrange the flowers for weddings but when her employer is making a delivery Victoria puts together a bouquet for a regular customer to give to his daughter.
Unlike their normal arrangements, Victoria ignores the looks of the flowers and chooses them instead based on their meanings. When the bouquet actually changes his relationship with his distant daughter, the man comes back for more and starts referring people specifically to Victoria.
Victoria may know flowers but she doesn’t know people, including herself. While she’s able to help other people find love, because of her childhood, it continues to elude Victoria until she learns a few choice life lessons.
I’m hesitant to say anything more about the plot of this book because there are twists and turns I don’t want to ruin. I also don’t want to ruin the horrible awful suspense the reader will feel toward the end of the book. I was so sure that Victoria was about to do something truly awful, truly unforgivable.
This is definitely not a feel good book but it is hopeful. Happiness may well be within Victoria’s reach but she will have to work, and work hard, to catch it.
Technically, this is an adult title but Victoria is a character that many teens will identify with — she has been failed by the adults in her life from foster parents to her social worker and her teachers. She doesn’t trust anyone, including herself. But she’s smart and she’s caring — its just that people are often more than she can handle.
Although the reading level is low enough for a middle grade student, content is more appropriate for teens who will engage with this story of a young woman trying to find her place in the world. There is some profanity as well as onscreen sex (onscreen but not explicit). And not all of the adults in this story are beyond hope but they are all human and, thus, are flawed.
This would be a good book for a teen who reads a bit below level. Of course, its also an excellent book for adults.