Friday, September 7, 2012

REVIEW (Book Club Read): The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh


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.

Paperback, 308 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2011)
ISBN 0345525558 (ISBN13: 9780345525550)

About the Author

Vanessa Diffenbaugh was born in San Francisco and raised in Chico, California. After studying creative writing and education at Stanford, she went on to teach art and writing to youth in low-income communities. She and her husband, PK, have three children: Tre’von, eighteen; Chela, four; and Miles, three. Tre’von, a former foster child, is attending New York University on a Gates Millennium Scholarship. Diffenbaugh and her family currently live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where her husband is studying urban school reform at Harvard.

Vanessa Diffenbaugh is also the founder of the Camellia Network. The mission of the Camellia Network is to create a nationwide movement to support youth transitioning from foster care. In The Language of Flowers, Camellia [kuh-meel-yuh] means “My Destiny is in Your Hands.” The network’s name emphasizes the belief in the interconnectedness of humanity: each gift a young person receives will be accompanied by a camellia, a reminder that the destiny of our nation lies in the hands of our youngest citizens. For more information visit

Follow the author on Facebook
Follow Vanessa on Twitter @VDiffenbaugh

My Thoughts

Victoria has struggled with life. Given up at birth, she has been tossed from home to home, never finding a family. Now aging out of the system at eighteen, it is time to make life her own and do with it as she please. She is lucky enough to have a few very important people enter life (Renata gives her a job, and Grant gives her his heart), and instead of following a traditional path, she creates a new one of her own. 

The title of this book comes from Victoria's love for what flowers have to say to those that can hear them. Back in Victorian times, people would use flowers to send secret messages. Lovers would use them to communicate love and passion, or the desire to meet. People would use flowers to express grief and joy. The aptly-named Victoria understands their language and speaks it fluently. She can bring people's deepest desires to light through the use of flowers.

Victoria is damaged by her tragic childhood, and this has left her with a detachment disorder that doesn't permit her to connect with people. But she can speak to them through flowers.

I loved this story. Some aspects were a little far-fetched, such as the fact that a baby girl in the system would not have been adopted in a flash, and would instead spend her life in foster care, given up over and over again. But it was sweet and touching, Victoria was just quirky enough (I love quirky characters!), and I really loved the language of the flowers. My favorite moments in the book were the ones where Victoria and Grant debate the meanings of the flowers, when there is more than one documented meaning. Fascinating!

My final word: Delightful! That's it. Just "delightful"!

Purchase The Language of Flowers:

Barnes and Noble
Ballantine Books

My Rating:

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