Thursday, May 2, 2013

"The Language of Flowers"--a book review

Last month our book club read The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. The book revolves around Victoria, who grew up in the foster care system, and what happens to her when she is emancipated at age eighteen. It is not so much about the foster care system but how Victoria's time in foster care affects her life choices. The story switches back and forth from present day to when she was 10 years old and living with Elizabeth, who wanted to adopt her. Elizabeth teaches her the language of flowers—the Victorian idea that each flower and plant represents an emotion or idea. This connection to flowers helps Victoria find her way in the real world.

The story is simple in some ways. There are a limited number of characters and a lot of foreshadowing. But in other ways, it is complicated. Because of Victoria's background, she doesn't react and behave as most people would expect. This creates suspense and anticipation in the novel.

What did my book club think about the novel? Everyone liked it. In fact one person said that it was the best book she had read in a long time. She considered it a page turner. But to be quite frank, I don't remember a lot of the discussion because 
I hadn't finished the book. Actually, I hadn't even started it. Therefore, I couldn't relate to most of what was said.

However now that I've read The Language Flowers, I will have to agree with the others. I liked the book. Not only did I like Victoria's story, I liked the backdrop of the plants that were discussed. And my club and I are not alone in our like for the book. It was on the New York Times best seller list and every major newspaper in the country gave it a favorable review.

My recommendation: Read it--especially if you like character driven books. However, if you only like non-stop action, robots, and blood and guts, don't look here.

But wait, there's more,
Diffenbaugh has actually had several foster kids and based much of what she wrote on things she learned during those experiences.

But wait, there's even more.
 I don't like book reviews that give away too much of the story, so I try not to do that. If you want to know more about this story, you can read about it here.