The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was intrigued by this novel that featured a main character that was aging out of foster care. Although the story wasn't earth shattering - in fact, it was pretty predictable - it gave a fairly good idea of what some of the kids aging out of a lifetime in foster care can be like - I thought that the author did a good job with Victoria and writing her. Individuals who spend much of their childhood in foster care tend to be challenging in EVERY way - often selfish, rude, manipulative and extremely difficult to like. I think the author's portrait of an individual aging out of foster care was pretty on point. I worked with several of these kids during my time as a social work and let's face it, kids like that aren't for everyone.
What I loved most about this novel was that the author wrote a book that I hope can help people see the foster care system a bit more clearly. I hope it will help readers have a little more sympathy for kids who have been abused and/or neglected and then act out in bad ways. Just understanding what it can do to kids is the first step!
As I said above, the actual story was fairly predictable and didn't offer a lot of major surprises. But, the story was fine - just nothing that wow'd me. The writing was fantastic - there was a lyrical flow in the language that I loved.
I did love the whole flowers & meanings pieces of the novel - that was intriguing to me. Such a unique way for the author to help show the character's grasp of emotion. I love the idea of secret messages that you can pass along with flowers. In many ways, the flower component of the story allowed the author to weave the very intense and often ugly story of Victoria and her life experiences while also leaving the reader with some hope for the future.
All in all, this was a great book - really more of a four and a half star book but not quite a five star novel. I definitely recommend this to readers who aren't uncomfortable with intense subjects. It's a fantastic debut novel that is definitely worth a read!
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