The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have a love/not love so much relationship with this book. I won't say love/hate relationship because there was nothing about the book that I hated, just somethings that I didn't love so much.
Here's what I really loved about this book...First, I loved the premise. I loved that the main character, Victoria, was able to communicate using flowers. It was just an interesting juxtaposition - this character who had such a traumatic childhood using the one beautiful thing - flowers and their meanings - from her childhood to communicate and find her place in the world. Secondly, I liked how the story wove several narratives together, many of which had "full circle" moments, which added a lot of depth to the novel as a whole. Overall, I found the book to be well written, perhaps a bit too long in some places, but a tremendous effort for a first-time author.
Here's what I didn't love so much...here's where you might want to stop reading because of spoilers...
(view spoiler)[I had a hard time with the character Victoria. I was totally on board with her and her character until she found out she was pregnant. I did not like how she handled her whole pregnancy and subsequent abandonment of her child. For me, she made assumptions and acted selfishly. She didn't even give Grant a chance to support her through becoming a mother, she just assumed he would abandon her. She turned her back on many of the offers for help from her boss and friends and refused to accept the help they were offering. She isolated herself and then became angry when she failed. I get that she fell into the patterns of her upbringing, but when someone throws you a lifeline and you refuse to grab onto it, you can't be mad at them because you drown. I lost a lot of sympathy for this character and because of that, it made it a little tough to get through the second half of the book.
I also had issues with the ending. I felt more for Victoria and Grant's daughter at the end then for any of the other characters. She was abandoned by both her mother and father, both of whom were simply perpetuating their own childhood experiences. I didn't like that their daughter became the second chance for Elizabeth, who also messed up. I appreciate that the three of them were trying to work it out at the end, but it just felt disingenuous to me. There just wasn't enough redeeming factors to help me regain the connection that I lost and it kept me from really being able to love this book. (hide spoiler)]
I think this one is worth the read. Overall, it is a beautiful story about broken people and their journies back to wholeness. I wish some things had turned out differently but I would still recommend the novel.
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