It always comes as a pleasant surprise when a book I think is going to be stuffy and literary is actually full of bleeding, breathing characters that rip my heart out. I mean, no offense to literary authors, analyzing heady works and learning big, obfuscated words in English and Pre-Law classes is worthwhile (and sometimes fun), but I've paid my dues. I read because I want my emotions pulled in a hundred directions and I want to read about sacrifice and love and bravery. I want to cry because the words cut me to the core and I want to laugh because people are silly and idiotic sometimes when they are supposed to be serious and I want books that reflect that.
How I Write Interview
RH website for the book
Anyway, enter The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. It's about an orphan girl aging out of the system and finding her own way. It's also about forgiving herself and others. It's also about letting love in.
It's also about flowers, and how loving something (reading, cooking, dancing, etc) can keep you going.
The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness. ( BN | GR )
Around 8:15 one night last week, I decided I was done writing for the night and really wanted something good to read. Nothing in my stack of library books already taken out appealed to me, so I drove (floored it) to the library to find something before it closed for the night. I'm really glad they had this book, because at that moment in time it was first on my TBR list and I don't think I would have been able to relax for the rest of the night if I'd have had to settle for another book.
I stayed up until one in the morning reading the first two parts. It made me cry. It made me burn. And it was wonderful and sweet and I was angry at Victoria for being so fucking dumb and hurting the people who love her but I couldn't stop reading because I couldn't help but like her anyway and I had to know what happened in the past and I had to know what happened to her in the present. I couldn't have asked for something better to read that night, it was wonderful and made me warm and fuzzy inside.
And if you really hate spoilers stop reading now because I am going to spoil the middle third of the book seriously stop reading it's going to be the very next sentence.
Alright. (Ok so it wasn't the next sentence, but I did that so there aren't any incriminating words at the top line of the paragraph.) The middle of the book left me anxiety-ridden, horrified, and sympathetically nauseous. Victoria gets pregnant, proceeds to disappear off the face of the earth and leave every bit of her support system behind, and we get a very detailed look at pregnancy and birth and BLEH. I have so not developed the maternal gene yet because just the thought of being pregnant leaves me horrified. Seriously if you want to give me a panic attack send a bunch of pregnant women to surround me. (This is really terrible considering I work across the street from CHOP and there are pregnant women everywhere.) (Sidenote: it's not that I don't want to have kids someday (because I do) I just haven't figured out how to reconcile this whole alien-life-form-inside-my-womb thing, or alternatively grow this alien dna baby thing outside of the confines of my own body. Why can't men grow babies in their balls? Evolution should really get on that. I'd feel much better about the whole process.)
Soooo that section of the book was hell for me. But I kept reading, mainly because of the loyalty it earned in the beginning of the book. And I am glad I kept going. But I should warn you, things get much, much worse for Victoria before they ever start to get better.
All in all, I would definitely recommend it. It was an interesting situation where I loved the main character but she hated me back. She always made all the wrong decisions!
And one of the coolest parts of the book: there is an appendix with the meanings of all the flowers! Very cool if you want to start leaving heavily veiled hate messages (or love... but that's BORING).