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Language of Flowers (Diffenbaugh) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
In this original and brilliant first novel, Diffenbaugh has united her fascination with the language of flowers—a long-forgotten and mysterious way of communication—with her firsthand knowledge of the travails of the foster-care system…This novel is both enchanting and cruel, full of beauty and anger. Diffenbaugh is a talented writer and a mesmerizing storyteller.
Brigitte Weeks - Washington Post


An unexpectedly beautiful book about an ugly subject: children who grow up without families, and what becomes of them in the absence of unconditional love...Jane Eyre for 2011.
San Francisco Chronicle


In a world where talk is cheap, debut author Vanessa Diffenbaugh has written a captivating novel in which a single sprig of rosemary speaks louder than words. …The Language of Flowers deftly weaves the sweetness of newfound love with the heartache of past mistakes in a novel that will certainly change how you choose your next bouquet.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune


Instantly enchanting.... [Diffenbaugh] is the best new writer of the yea
Elle


A fascinating debut…. Diffenbaugh clearly knows both the human heart and her plants, and she keeps us rooting for the damaged Victoria.
O Magazine


Diffenbaugh's affecting debut chronicles the first harrowing steps into adulthood taken by a deeply wounded soul who finds her only solace in an all-but-forgotten language. On her 18th birthday, Victoria Jones ages out of the foster care system, a random series of living arrangements around the San Francisco Bay Area the only home she's ever known. Unable to express herself with words, she relies on the Victorian language of flowers to communicate: dahlias for "dignity"; rhododendron for "beware." Released from care with almost nothing, Victoria becomes homeless, stealing food and sleeping in McKinley Square, in San Francisco, where she maintains a small garden. Her secret knowledge soon lands her a job selling flowers, where she meets Grant, a mystery man who not only speaks her language, but also holds a crucial key to her past. Though Victoria is wary of almost everyone, she opens to Grant, and he reconnects her with the only person who has ever mattered in her life. Diffenbaugh's narrator is a hardened survivor and wears her damage on her sleeve. Struggling against all and ultimately reborn, Victoria Jones is hard to love, but very easy to root for.
Publishers Weekly


Diffenbaugh's debut novel opens on Victoria Jones's 18th birthday, which coincides with her emancipation from California's foster care system. Abandoned at birth, Victoria has grown up in a string of bad foster homes, except for the one year she spent with Elizabeth, a vineyard owner who taught her the meaning of flowers. Alternating between Victoria's brief time with Elizabeth and her unsteady attempt to face life as an adult with little education and less experience, Diffenbaugh weaves together the two narratives using the Victorian language of flowers that ultimately helps shape Victoria's future as she grapples with a painful decision from her past. Verdict: Victoria might be her own worst enemy, but her defensiveness and self-doubt as a foster child and her desire to live beyond what she was thought capable of will sway readers toward her favor. Fans of Janet Fitch's White Oleander will enjoy this solid and well-written debut, which is also certain to be a hit with book clubs. —Mara Dabrishus, Ursuline Coll., Pepper Pike, OH
Library Journal




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