Oct 23, 2019
Last night I finished reading The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, which is a book I happened upon at a local used bookstore that intrigued me. The book flap made the novel out to be a romance, and I am a simple being who loves sappy and romantic mush, so I gave it a shot. It is not really a romance, and is certainly not mushy. Centered around Victoria Jones, a ward of the state who was abandoned shortly after birth, The Language of Flowers follows Victoria's life after she emancipates out of the system. We learn of her present struggles in the majority of the book, while every other chapter dives into her past at her last attempt at finding an adoptive family. Victoria is full of anger, spite, and misanthropic tendencies, but the attentive care of her final guardian might just change something in her, as well as teach her about the hidden meanings of flowers. I would say that lack of gooey romance, though surprising, isn't really a turnoff, because the novel focuses more on personal trauma, mental struggles, and learning how to be loved as a whole. Romance, as fraught as it sometimes is, plays a part in the overall narrative, but I would not consider it a focal point in any major regard. There's quite a lot going on in this novel, and I will say that's to its detriment in the book's middle segment. With a strong opening and ending, the middle just kind of wearily drags behind the rest of the book. It has important setup and content, but I can't say I was fully engaged while reading it. Thankfully, the ending swings back up to the full power of the opening, letting you finish the book with a sense of fulfillment. I felt good when I closed the book at the end, even somewhat hopeful. As a person with numerous mental struggles and a healthy dose of self-loathing, The Language of Flowers gave me a glimpse into what healing might be like: slow, full of setbacks, but possible. I gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars in the end, even though the middle section almost dipped it down to a 3. Attached is a picture of my "review card" that I'm storing within the book. It contains my initial thoughts upon finishing. Enjoy!