Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Language of Flowers written by Vanessa Diffenbach

I read The Language of Flowers for my book club and it is a great example of why I love being in a book club. Once again, I probably would not have picked up this one to read on my own but I really enjoyed this unusual story about a baby girl (Victoria) who is abondoned by her birth mother when she is 3 weeks old The plot centers on Victoria's sad life growing up in the child welfare system. Young Victoria finds herself in and out of foster/group homes as her social worker (Meredith) tries very hard to find a family to adopt her.

As the story unfolds, we learn that if Victoria is not adopted by the time she turns 10 she will be classified as unadoptable by the state and will be placed in a group home until her 18th birthday. One of the pivotal points in this poignant story occurs when Meredith makes a final attempt to find the 9 year old Victoria a permanent family to adopt her. and places her with Elizabeth, who also had a difficult childhood and a "distant" mother. Elizabeth teaches Victoria about the "language of flowers", a method of communication used in the Victorian age in which every flower was assigned to a specific meaning. Eventually Victoria learns to communicate her feelings through the language of flowers. The plot is revealed as Diffenbach alternates between the present day (Victoria's 18th birthday) and flashbacks of Victoria's incredibly difficult life in the child welfare system. This technique entices the reader with just enough information to keep you engaged.

I was deeply vested in the characters and genuinely wanted to know what happened to them. Overall, The Language of Flowers is a well-written story that combines an unusual topic with interesting characters and a compelling plot that explores universal themes such as the complexities of mother-daughter relationships, and the human need for love, communication and connection.

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