“The Language of Flowers” is a novel about learning how to forgive yourself and accept love from others. Told from the perspective of an 18-year-old product of the foster care system, it runs the reader through a gauntlet of emotions, including frustration, sympathy and hope.
As the book begins, Victoria is aging out of the foster care system, which means she has to figure out how to support herself now. However, the years she spent in the system have damaged her – she’s self-destructive, bitter and slightly feral. In other words, not very employable. One skill she does have is understanding the language of flowers, a concept from Victorian times that assigns a unique meaning to different types of flowers. Through this, she is able to create unique flower arrangements, which also lands her a job with a sympathetic florist.
The rest of the book follows Victoria’s journey to survive and thrive as a young adult, overcome years of rejection by foster parents and finally allow herself to love and be loved. This journey includes finding romantic love, becoming a mother, reconciling with a former foster mother and coming into her own as a successful businesswoman. Along the way, she frequently stumbles and even backtracks, but by the end she finally seems to be on a healthy path to healing.
I have mixed emotions about this book. Victoria is such a frustrating and unlikeable character at the beginning of the book that I almost gave up on reading it. But something drew me in and made me keep reading. I’m glad I stuck with it because it ultimately had a good message about healing and self acceptance. And I also came to understand there was a reason the author made Victoria so hard to like – it made the love she received from some of the other characters even more extraordinary. These other characters were able to look past Victoria’s many flaws and love her anyway. They may have been the real heroes of this story.
Thanks to Patricia for recommending this book!
“The Language of Flowers” has been out for a few years, so I’m assuming several of my blog followers have read it. What did you think? Please leave your comments below.