I tentatively requested Vanessa Diffenbaugh's THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS through librarything.com's Early Reviewer's program. The title and the cover made me wonder if it was too sweet of a story for me.
The written description made me think it would be all right. Victoria Jones, a foster child from infancy, reaches 18 years old with no connections, no home and no direction. All she has is her love of flowers, and a lot of survival mechanisms that have not allowed her to develop personal relationships or connections.
Alternating chapters tell about Victoria's childhood in the foster care system and as a young adult trying to construct a life from a very rough childhood.
Part of her childhood was spent with Elizabeth, a woman who almost adopted her. Yes, that's almost adopted her. The reason why the adoption didn't take place adds a bit of mystery to the story.
From Elizabeth, Victoria learned some things about love and relationships. She also learned the language of flowers.
This language of flowers was new to me. Using flowers to express a particular sentiment gained immense popularity in the Victorian era (hence the main character's name, perhaps?), when it wasn't seemly to express emotion and desire openly. Flowers were used instead, each flower conveying a particular meaning or sentiment.
After she gets a job with a florist, Victoria uses her knowledge of the language of flowers as customers come to her for help with their relationship problems or wishes. She dispenses help through flowers, selling flowers that carry attributes they want to enhance in their relationships, jonquils to enhance desire to someone wanting a romantic relationship, or stephanotis for happiness in marriage in a bride's bouquet.
Diffenbaugh did a great job creating contrast between Victoria's toughness and her life as a foster child with the delicacy and beauty of the language of flowers.
Diffenbaugh is launching the Camellia Network to create a nationwide movement to support youth making the transition from foster care. Kudos to her for this project and this book!
This book has already been published in many other countries; its publication in the U.S. this August is highly anticipated.
(And thank you to librarything for the advance reader copy!)
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