What I’m Reading Wednesday

19 Dec

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My sister-in-law gave me the book, “The Language of Flowers” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh for my birthday last year. When reading the book sleeve I instantly thought of Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence,” because of how flowers were used to communicate during the Victorian era.

The Language of Flowers is a powerful read about family (whether blood related or not) and love. It tells the story of Victoria, an 18-year-old who grew up in the foster care system and was never adopted. She eventually aged out only to have no where to go and lived in a city park. The story weaves back and forth between present day of her finding work in a floral shop and when she was a child, living with a foster parent she desperately wanted to adopt her.

Throughout the story I was on edge just waiting for something tragic to happen. There are definitely more downs than ups, but it definitely gives an intimate look from the perspective of a foster child. Victoria deems herself unworthy and unforgivably flawed, and it just breaks your heart that she can’t snap out of her own self-loathing.

Here is an excerpt from page 195. Victoria is speaking about her boyfriend whom she knew as a child and was reunited with as an adult:

“If I had known how I would have joined Grant in prayer. I would have prayed for him, for his goodness, his loyalty, and his improbable love. I would have prayed for him to give up, to let go, and to start over. I might have even prayed for forgiveness. But I don’t know how to pray.”

The author has three children including a former foster child. She launched the Camellia Network to support youth making the transition from foster care to independence.

At the end of the book is a Q and A interview with the author. One of the questions asked what her inspiration was for the novel. Her response:

“With Victoria, I wanted to create a character that people could connect with on an emotional level — at her best and at her worst — which I hoped would give readers a deeper understanding of the challenges of growing up in foster care.”

As the novel progresses Victoria finds a passion for and personal healing in flowers and their meanings. The novel also includes a flower dictionary at the back of the book to help the reader keep track. You will definitely put extra thought in picking out your next bouquet.

What is your favorite flower?

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