Diffenbaugh, Vanessa. The Language of Flowers: A Novel. New York: Ballantine Books, 2011. Print.
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The book is divided into four parts (1-Common Thistle, 2- A Heart Unacquainted, 3-Moss & 4-New Beginnings).
The story alternates between the now and the past. We meet Victoria Jones, an 18 year old who is exited out of her foster home to a guidance home. After 3 months there, she's evicted because instead of finding a job, she spends her time finding flowers. She is infatuated with flowers. We learn that at one (pivotal) foster home, Elizabeth taught her "the language of flowers is non-negotiable, Victoria" (Diffenbaugh 63). Once evicted from the guidance home, she lives in a park in a secluded spot. She begins working with Renata at Bloom, a flower shop in San Francisco and evens finds a "closet" to rent out so she doesn't have to sleep in the park.
Victoria has a love and understands the "language of flowers" (First title reference on page 29. Also appears other times in the book.) and has a gift that helps Renata's business. Victoria later learns that Elizabeth "had been as wrong the language of flowers as she had been about me" (Diffenbaugh 74). Victoria begins a quest to photograph and collect the real meaning of the flowers. She's learned that sometimes there are more than one meaning.
Victoria feels unworthy and doesn't trust and has a hard time loving because she seems to ruin the good things in her life. However, she makes some good choices, based on her love of flowers, that actually pull her out of a life she could have lived. In many ways, the flowers both destroyed and saved her life.
There is so much in the story that I reacted to while reading. The story was enjoyable and I learned about what meaning certain flowers hold. As I read, I started a list of the flowers mentioned and their meanings. This was unnecessary, as in the back of the book, there is a flower dictionary. At times, I wanted to scream at Victoria for the way she treated Grant and Hazel. However, I did understand her need for survival. She'd been kicked (sometimes literally) too many times.
I enjoyed how Diffenbaugh wove the stories together of the past and present, as we are always connected to decisions we've made. "Every decision I'd ever made had led me here" (Diffenbaugh 249). Some parts of the book were predictable or unbelievable, but the story also holds a few surprises.