The Language of Flowers
This is the story of Victoria, from her abandonment at birth, through childhood abuse, to her orphanage experiences and her difficulties in forming and maintaining relationships. Victoria’s life is portrayed with a depth of a feeling that pulls the reader into the story and having a caring feeling about this strange and sometimes difficult young woman. Victoria is a difficult foster child, having been shuffled from place to place, only once finding the love and affection she needed and desired Yet, the voices of the past homes and her social worker cause her to act out in ways that are inappropriate and she loses that place where she found acceptance and security; and began to learn the language of flowers. The story moves back and forth in time and place within the span of her life which brings greater meaning to why she behaves the way she does with people she meets.
Victoria Jones has spent her life in the foster care system. At 18 she is released to the street, homeless, uneducated, angry and without resources for living. The novel rotates between past and present where we learn of Victoria’s triumphs and hardships. For most of Victoria’s young adult life, she spent it with Elizabeth who teaches her about the language of flowers and that each flower has a distinct meaning. She carries this knowledge to present day. As she makes her own garden, then finds work with a florist, she struggles to overcome the anger and distrust that has been so deeply ingrained. Love and reconciliation come, although we are left with the reality of so many foster children and that is the struggle to accept themselves and the love others offer.
Victoria kept mentally reconnecting to her childhood to find understanding and meaning in her own life. There was a personal relationship with the flowers Victoria worked with and it was evident with all those who became involved in her world. Customers continued to come to her with specific requests for flowers to heal and/or help them in some way. During the time working at the florist, she meets Grant; Elizabeth’s nephew. He shares her love of flowers which blooms to actual love. Some parts in this novel were very sad seeing what kids in the foster care system have to go through and how it affects their future. In the end, Victoria makes peace with her life and starts a new beginning.
Part of the authors goal in writing this novel is to expose the abusive nature of the foster care systems in the United States. At times, the novel can be quite difficult to read. This is a heartbreaking story of a damaged young woman who communicates through flowers. The story tracks this young woman who became emancipated at 18 years of age, through her first year or so out of state custody. She has been in failed foster care situations or institutionalized in group homes. Being detached and removed, she throws her every waking moment into the only thing she can love unconditionally and that is the language of flowers. The language of flowers is a complex symbolism that came to social power in the Victorian ages and was only known by a select few; we find that Victoria uses every flower as a message of animosity, hate, friendship and all other things in between throughout the story.
The author includes an addendum at the end of the book called Victoria’s Dictionary of Flowers. Different flowers express different emotions in the book. The flowers add color, tone, and feeling to the writing. The author uses all five senses throughout the entire book. A delightful book even as it portrays the problems our society has within the foster care system. The author writes of what she knows as she is, herself, a foster parent. A definite must read to add to everyone’s collection.