Usually once a year there’s a publishing success story – a book that the industry raves about, it gets hyped by the press and we’re all supposed to read it. You can usually tell by how many people have it on the tube e.g. The Da Vinci Code, One Day, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Twilight etc. Suddenly, I noticed The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh had joined this club – there are posters everywhere on the tube, lots of rave reviews from the press and the industry is excited. So it was with caution I picked it up as these hyped up books are often disappointing.
The Language of Flowers is about an eighteen year old American girl called Victoria who is just leaving foster care for the final time and is being sent out to find her own way in the world. We watch Victoria as she struggles to communicate, preferring the world of flowers and see her journey both in the present and back when she was younger when she was almost adopted. The central theme of the book is really about whether Victoria has the capacity to love and whether she can escape the pain of her childhood and make it as an adult.
I connected to this book on an emotional level. It is beautifully written and the use of flowers peppering the story doesn’t detract from what is at times a heartbreaking story but one that fills you with hope. A couple of times my eyes welled up and I frantically turned the pages to get to what was a satisfying finish. There are a few contrived moments and a few characters that weren’t fully rounded for me – they were just there to help Victoria even though she didn’t always deserve it but those slight flaws aside, I couldn’t put it down and finished it over the weekend.
I can see why it’s getting a reaction in the world of publishing – it is a unique story that includes mystery, drama and romance. It’s not being marketed as a young adult story but for me it fit this genre as she is a teenager and does look back at her childhood. I suppose it is really a coming of age story and as the cover says it shows us that everyone has the potential to be something beautiful.
I would definitely recommend this book and I look forward to seeing where the author goes next.
Has anyone else read it?