Monday, 18 June 2012
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
I liked The Language of Flowers because of the main character, Victoria herself. I've read many a review of this book where the reviewer bemoans the fact that Victoria isn't likeable and that her actions don't make sense. And it's true - Victoria is a frustrating, passive individual who makes noises about wanting to improve her life but waits for said life to fall in her lap, that's if she's not busy pushing away people who care about her and rejecting opportunities. To a functional adult, this makes no sense. But I didn't mind that Victoria wasn't likeable or function because she was believable.
I don't teach children of Victoria's age but I've taught a few younger versions of her and for me, her character was completely plausible and I felt sorry for her. As a child she was violent to others and as an adult she's defensive and closed to the point where she can't relate to the people around her, even Renata, who offers her a job, and Grant, who tries to love her. She has many chances of happiness but at least early in the book, she throws them all away. I liked that Diffenbaugh chose such a complex individual to write about and think that she had some important points to make about the foster system and how a life lived in it can effect a person.
I found The Language of Flowers to be a gripping read. Diffenbaugh intersperses chapters about Victoria at eighteen with chapters about the time she spent at ten with the woman who nearly adopted her. I enjoyed both storylines and found the book hard to put down, even though at times it was like watching a car crash. The novel was effectively written and pacy, but the writing was secondary to the story and the story took a backseat to character development.
My only criticism is that things improved for Victoria too quickly; I don't think there's many eighteen year olds fresh out of the care system that have the opportunities that she does and I don't think there are many of us that learn to change the habits of a lifetime like Victoria did, even if she took her time to do so. I thought her character development was well written, but maybe overly optimistic. There's thousands of Victoria's out there that don't make it.
Source: Library (reserved)
First Published: 2011
Score: 4.5 out of 5
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I've heard so many really positive things about this book. My mom is in the middle of reading it right now, though she hasn't moved much on it in the past couple of weeks, so not sure if she's just stalled or it's not holding her interest. Seems to be a winner with most people, though!ReplyDelete
Thanks for your review. I loved it a lot, but I agree with you that so many do not make it. Thanks to this book though, the offer has set up a large organization that helps connect family ready to welcome one such teenager to help him/her to make it. Here is my review: http://wordsandpeace.com/2011/10/07/73-review-the-language-of-flowers/ReplyDelete
I don't usually like a book that ends way too smoothly...I'm not a fan of Cinderella type tales where everything is neatly wrapped up in the end. I want my characters to be fictional but also I need to believe them. I've heard negative and positive and then some in between about this one.ReplyDelete
I think your last paragraph summarizes why I didn't care for this book as much as you did. If we're going to buy that Victoria's frustrating qualities are believable for someone in her situation, then I have a hard time accepting that she was able to change her outlook and habits so quickly. This is one of those reads that I wish I had been able to discuss with a group. Different backgrounds and outlooks can bring a lot to a story's interpretation.ReplyDelete
You've convinced me. I need to read this book some time!ReplyDelete
I've had this TBR for ages, must get round to reading it soon.ReplyDelete
I suppose that it becomes a completely different kind of book if the author gets you invested in the main character and then leaves her more broken than she was in the opening pages.ReplyDelete
Perhaps a sequel would be in order to show that Victoria is not magically changed overnight and that she is still battling her demons.
This sounds like a beautiful read. I am going to take your recommendation and add it to my TBR right away. Thank you for the lovely review.ReplyDelete
I've heard about this before, but this is the first time I've actually read a synopsis. It sounds amazing - I love the language of flowers too, so hopefully I'll get into it.ReplyDelete
I'm off to see if my library has a copy :)
I don't judge books by their covers, but rather by how eager I am to pick them back up and reluctant to put them down. By all my marks, Vanessa Diffenbaugh speaks a language that I understand.ReplyDelete
Marlene Detierro (Fishing Lodge Alaska)
I already have a copy so don't need to be entered. But I loved this book, and especially all the info about flowers!ReplyDelete
Marlene Detierro (Cash Advance Company)
I enjoyed this book. And yes, reading your review things improved quickly for her but it didn't really bother me. I mean I didn't stop at it. Because also things improve, she takes some time to improve herself. I thought the idea of the book was good and beautiful.ReplyDelete