Friday, March 11, 2011

Review of The Language of Flowers

Title: The Language of Flowers
Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Genre: Adult fiction
Release date: August 2011
Publisher: Ballantine Books

This book is crazy good. CRAZY. GOOD. I started it this morning before work and couldn't think about anything else all day. Even though I know it's going to be at the top of the New York Times bestseller list as soon as it comes out, and obviously I want everyone and their mother to know about it, I'm feeling a little possessive. I don't want anyone else to read these words and have opinions about them until I've had them to myself for a little while.

The story opens on Victoria Jones's eighteenth birthday: the day of her emancipation from the foster care system. Ever since she was found abandoned three weeks after her birth, her life has been a string of bad foster parents and brutal group homes, broken only by the year she spent with Elizabeth. But Elizabeth, like all the others, is in the past.

Now Victoria faces a life with no backup plan. She has no friends, no family, and no skills or interests beyond her knowledge of flowers. After spending several nights in a public park, Victoria knows she has to make a life for herself--and the life she makes is nothing like the one she'd envisioned.

Vanessa Diffenbaugh will take the literary world by storm with her debut novel. The chapters alternate between the present day and Victoria's ninth year, the year that Victoria lived with her last foster mother. She is hard to love at times, but impossible not to. Her world comes alive on the pages: I could smell it, feel it, and taste it as I read--and everything is imbued with tinges of anger, defensiveness, and self-doubt that make it possible for the reader to almost understand what it's like to be a foster child. Most of the time, Victoria is her own worst enemy. In the words of publisher Libby McGuire, "She's like a friend you just know will able to find love and happiness, if only she can get out of her own way."

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