Do you ever start reading a book just because you’ve heard of it? You know, you’re looking at the racks of books at the bookstore, and suddenly you recognize one–maybe you’ve seen it at someone else’s house–and you pick it up, immediately feeling some kinship toward the book, simply because you recognize it. Maybe it’s the same with people, too? Some people are just approachable, and maybe that’s because they’re sort of familiar. That’s how I ran into this book: my mom read it, and then I saw it at the library, and thought, “I know that book!” So, I picked it up and read it. In one night.
That’s a thing that I do sometimes, read a book in one night. It has to be good, and it has to be the right night. Usually, at about 1am, I’ll realize how late it is and put the book down so that I can go to sleep. I’ll lie there for a few minutes and think about the characters I’ve just met, and at some point, I decide that I’m not going to sleep. I sit up just a little, pick up the book, and it’s all downhill from there. I stayed up until 3 with this one.
This book is one of those that grabs you and doesn’t let go until you’re done–and not really after that. It’s a story about family and forgiveness, but mostly about one woman’s struggle to accept companionship and love. Raised in foster and group homes, Victoria believes that she’s unloveable until she lands at Elizabeth’s home when she’s nine years old. Despite how hard she tried, Victoria could never convince Elizabeth to hate her. The story does some time-jumping– the first part while Victoria is nine, living with Elizabeth, and the second beginning when she is eighteen, just released from the group home where she has lived out her teen years.
The Language of Flowers is a real thing–flowers have meanings and people used to be familiar with them. Used to convey (somewhat) hidden meaning, the meaning of flowers is not always kind. Yellow roses, for example, mean infidelity. Elizabeth teaches Victoria these meanings, and she uses the secretive meanings that only she understands to give people puzzling messages via flowers. Rather than speak aloud the things she’s feeing, Victoria uses flowers to connect with people–or to hold them at arms’ length.
Eventually, Victoria realizes that she has family–despite her efforts to avoid them.
The list so far:
The list so far:
28. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh