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on March 5, 2017
The author, Vanessa Diffenbaugh produced an amazing book that will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions - from the depths of depression to shear joy! Her character development was outstanding - the main characters: Victoria, Elizabeth, Grant, and Meredith came to life. It was as if you were in their bodies experiencing their emotions. You will learn about the beauty of flowers and how certain flowers relay certain feelings. You will learn how growing up in the foster care system can shape your life. This book really touched my soul, and is one of the best books I have read in recent years. Barbara Cognetta
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on January 11, 2018
Concise writing exposes the cruelty of the American foster care system through the story of 18-year-old Victoria and her struggle to make a home after emancipation. Gratefully, one foster parent, Elizabeth, had provided her with a unique education in the Victorian language of flowers, which she translates into a job with a small florist shop. Told through flashbacks interspersed within the current timeline of the novel, the reader follows her circuitous path and learns of her time in Elizabeth’s home, gradually uncovering the reasons for Victoria’s heavy armor and watching it shed as she finds the courage to face and forgive herself, her past, and all the family she’s ever known.
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on March 8, 2017
In my work with people who have experienced horrific and chronic circumstances, it is common to see people who seem unreachable. And while this is neither a clinical guide nor a research study on helping foster children, it is something better: a story that is at once realistic in its depiction of the challenges as well as the elements of what we think are successful outcomes and a hopeful balm in that it is in fact a work of fiction and so has the benefit of allowing the reader to tolerate the pain and learn the lesson of hope despite pain. Couldn't put it down.
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on February 17, 2017
5 Stars, really....5 Stars. It is a GREAT book. Finished it in two days (and I have three kids, a full time job and a BUSY life...so you know...not a lot of sleep!) The writer isn't overly intellectual in her writing, but the topic of using a Victorian-era "language" could get really intricate in description. I would guess that she wanted to add a lot of factual info from her research and then decided that, based on the age of the characters, adding in all of that would have made the story less believable...so, kudos to your restraint Ms. Diffenbaugh! I was looking for a read that wouldn't be too emotional. Something that would pull me in gently and move quickly. I have read too many books, recently that just go on about nothing and 10 pages in you feel like you haven't left the scene....or you're not far from where you were. (Okay, 10 pages is an exaggeration, but you know what I mean...fluff!) I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to enjoy a book after maybe spending too long in T.V.-land, or Rat-Racing through life. This is a nice little place of respite and enrichment.
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on May 18, 2016
As I read this book, I wasn't sure how it would end or what my summary would be. It bounces around a bit. But hang on..
I got about 2/3 of the way through and could not stop reading! I had to know the ending. I'm an adoptive mom and another group of adoptive moms recommended it. The story is this, a foster girl longing for a family is fostered my a single mom. There are a series of events in which happen and the girl ages out at 18. She is without a family, roots, no friends, homeless, jobless and a fed up caseworker. She jeopardized every relationship and placement. But deep inside wanted to be loved and in a home. She ages out at 18 and has nothing. The story is truly beautiful and redemptive! It's powerful to think of a child to be a young adult and how they function, work, are able to be in relationships when they never had an example of how to do that. Victoria faces what I'm sure so many of orphaned children face in the system. Statewide or internationally.
I was told this book was dark. But I did not see it that way. I felt sad and mad at the character. The girl has RAD behaivors. I am so glad I read it and finished it! As we parent kids from hard places, remembering they are worth it. Relationships do matter! We are all pliable and changeable no matter our age or past.
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on June 7, 2017
My book club chose this novel and all 6 of us really enjoyed it. The story was unusual and unexpected, with the protagonist Victoria communicating her feelings to others largely by using the old Victorian meanings of flowers. I learned a lot of things I had not heard much about before, especially about the dismal fate of kids, who've been in and out of foster care and group homes all of their lives, once they age out of the system at age 18. It was a sad yet truly inspiring novel.
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on June 11, 2016
Language Of Flowers

As an Interior Designer I truly enjoyed and understood the language of flowers. The story is captivating, emotionally engaging, intellectually immersing. Characters are believable except Grant, the only male character in the novel. He was unbelievably perfect, who is peaceful, forgiving and loving. Perhaps he is a farmer whose basic instinct is nurturing.

Weaving of past and present unfold the story beautifully. It kept me wanting to read. Of course the end is pleasing. However, there would be struggles and Victoria would have to learn to overcome. Keeping relationship, tending to those we love, Victoria discovers while making bouquets of flowers for various relationships.

Everything is meaningful. There is meaningful Life in every sentient or insentient creation. Rocks speaks to our heart just as much as flower.
Great writing!
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on May 26, 2014
The Language of Flowers, is a contemporary novel set in the San Francisco Bay Area. The title refers to the Victorian custom of communicating emotional messages by means of the gift of flowers. The main character, Victoria, has a bleak childhood in foster care. The book alternates chapters about her life once she ages out--at 18, and her earlier life as an unwanted foster child. In case you thought only of Victorian orphans suffering in 19th Century novels, Vanessa Diffenbough’s novel reveals the problems contemporary foster kids endure, and the long term consequences.
There is so much to savor in this book. You learn about the language of flowers, the retail florist business, the under- the- table economy, a foster child's life. And there is a love story or two, and a multi-generational family mystery.
I was caught up in the story and enjoyed the book. I had a hard time believing some actions of a few characters (the rich land owners) but appreciated learning about the foster-child world. With a few reservations, it is a good book.
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on August 9, 2015
This was an amazing book; probably the best I've read all year. At my book club, we unanimously loved it. While the definitions of the flowers was a nice addition, one could argue as to whether they fit well ("Peony" to me is not "anger"; but other definitions were better). It was more the story of a small group of unusual people who dont seem like they could ever find love, ...but DO find love. It centers around a girl who goes thru dozens of bad foster homes, and ends up on the street at 18 years old. Her only talent is understanding flowers...their meanings and how to grow and arrange them. Two people cross her path, and eventually love, patience, and flowers brings them happiness (not counting the flower store owner, who is a positive influence). Some of the situations we found shocking, but believeable. Also, the author kept us in suspense thru good writing techniques. it was almost impossible to predict what happened next. We also were satisfied with the ending. I also encourage people to read the back of the book. First, is the list of definitions (which both the author and the girl int he book developed thru multiple books on flowers). Second there are notes that explain why the author chose the subject that add a new dimension to the storyline.
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on January 19, 2016
This story deals with universal themes, but it also opens the reader's eyes to abuses within the foster care system, clarifying why a young person might act out after so much rejection. Primarily it's about self-forgiveness after terrible failure, starts and restarts while coping with overwhelming circumstances. This is a wonderful novel...when is the next one to be published?
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