Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

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I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did; from the first chapter I was hooked, so hooked I didn’t want to go to water aerobics of go to sleep until I had finished it. The title sounds girly and romantic, big yawn, but the book is anything but. The book is tough, and edgy, and tackles the foster care system without using sexual assault or out-of-the-ordinarily-cruel foster parents to bludgeon the point. She botches her one great chance at happiness when she sabotages her adoption by Elizabeth, who loves her dearly. The system can even be caring, but the effect of warehousing unwanted and neglected children damages their ability to trust, and to form relationships. We watch her as a child, self-destructive, angry, undermining her own chances of happiness.

Victoria even has a girly name to go with the title, but she is tough, and self-reliant, and very, very vulnerable, in spite of her toughness. Aging out of the system, she emerges a waif, with a hunger that stems more from emotional needs than physical.

She is greatly blessed to cross paths with people who look at her and truly see her, see her possibilities and her vulnerabilities, people who are willing to work with her, even to love her patiently, in spite of her prickliness and tendency to push people away. One of these is a florist, Renate, who recognizes in Victoria a gift for floral arrangement and is willing to work around her eccentricities. She gives Victoria a part-time job, in which Victoria flourishes.

In her emotional life, however, Victoria still has a lot of unresolved issues, stemming back to the very beginning when she was given up by a mother who, for whatever reason, didn’t want her. While she is hungry for love, she fears it as much as she wants it. Relationships overwhelm her. She abandons the love of her life, and then has to live with the consequences.

Watching her resolve her issues is cliff-hanging. You can’t stop reading. It’s not like watching a train-wreck; you know this girl has inner resources she has not yet tapped; you can read it in the loving evaluation of those who surround her. Every page of the way you are rooting for her to succeed.


July 1, 2013 - Posted by | Books, Character, Circle of Life and Death, Cultural, Family Issues, Fiction, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior, Parenting, Social Issues

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