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In Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers, the main character, Victoria, has just be emancipated at the age of eighteen after spending her whole life in the foster care system, moving constantly from home to home.

She is a deeply trouble young woman, who is incapable of properly expressing her feelings or building strong relationships. Instead, she uses violence as a way of communicating her isolation and mistrust. However, she learns about the language of flowers, a Victorian way to convey romantic expressions: red roses mean love, honeysuckle for devotion, and asters for patience. She realizes she has a gift of helping others through flowers.

One day after getting a job at a florist, she is at a wholesale marketplace when she meets a mysterious stranger. His name is Grant and they begin a relationship together. She begins questioning what is missing in her life. Unfortunately, her past comes back to haunts her and she must confront a painful secret.

This book was a genuine surprise: it was the choice of the month for my book club, and I didn’t really have any expectations of it. I think the language of flowers is fascinating, how every single flower you give to someone is ripe with meaning. I also found out that you should probably never give yellow roses because they mean either jealousy or infidelity, not friendship as I initially thought.

The Language of Flowers is a simple story, but it is full of emotion. Books can invoke such a strong response to the situations they present and this book did exactly that. You may empathize with Victoria, but you may also get really angry when she does stupid things. She is a character of extremes: she is deeply loving one minute, but the next, she is distrustful and suspicious. She is so helpful and smart, but can run away as soon as a situation becomes just a little difficult.

After becoming traumatized from a life without love, all you want for Victoria is for her to do the right things and have her happy ending. This is one of those books where the character does get the happy ending, but it’s not cheesy or clichéd.

The Language of Flowers was so good, and such a quick read. I definitely recommend it, because the way Diffenbaugh weaves Victoria’s story with the language of flowers is subtle, but powerful. Victoria and Grant have a child together, but Victoria cannot handle the situation and leaves, giving the baby up to him. When she comes back, she learns that Grant has named their baby, Hazel. In the language of flowers, hazel means reconciliation.


{  } Pretty bad
{  } Tolerable
{  } All right
{  } Exciting
{x} Enthralling

Book 41 out of 60