The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I received a free copy of this book from the Cambridge Public Library, as part of their reading group.
The book focuses on Victoria, who is a girl living in San Francisco, and has been through the foster care system. She has just turned 18, and is now legally an adult. After 3 months living in an apartment, and not paying rent, she is homeless. She meets a florist, Renata, who takes her in. One of Victoria's most prized possessions is a dictionary of the Victorian language of flowers. The book also flashes back to when Victoria was 10, and was placed with Elizabeth, a single owner of a vineyard. Elizabeth is estranged from Catherine, her sister. Catherine's son, Grant, becomes a major character in this book. I'll stop here to avoid spoilers.
I found the book very confusing. For one thing, it bounces back and forth between the present day (whenever that is; the book really doesn't say) and when Elizabeth is 10, without any warning. It would have been nice to have the chapters labeled "Now" and "Then", or something like that. The plot developments seemed a little forced. Everything just seemed to happen at the right time. Again, I can't say too much without revealing spoilers, but the ending seemed too much like a Hallmark Channel movie for me. Everything is wrapped up in a nice, neat little package, tied with a bow on top. Everybody lives happily ever after. The author said, in an interview at the end of the paperback edition, that she was trying to show the problems of the foster care system. I didn't see that. Maybe because I live in Minnesota, and the book takes place in California, I don't understand the foster care system described in the book. Not one of my favorite reads. I agree with one of the other participants in the group, who said that after a while, this became a chore read. If not for the book club, I would have stopped.
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