Monday, May 2, 2016

Author Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of Flowers
By Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Language is a method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured. Yet, during Victorian times flowers were used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. Vanessa Diffenbaugh has written an intense emotional novel that conveys compassion and insight to a foster child’s past. Victoria Jones has experienced a tough life in the Foster care system. Often moving from placement to placement. She is inept with personal relationships, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Vanessa Diffenbaugh weaves an emotional story of confronting grief, anger, and developing trust with new personal connections.

The chapters alternate with a younger Victoria and an eighteen year-old Victoria. The characters are very well developed and it was difficult for me to not wonder how much of this novel was based on personal experience since the author is a foster parent. The reader becomes so involved with Victoria’s choices that you become part of the emotional roller coaster of the life of a child in Foster Care. I personally found The Language of Flowers a very difficult read since I too witness many of these experiences of abandonment and seeking parental love that I was not given as a child. During some of the scenes, I had to put the book down and let my feelings settle for this reason. I understood why Victoria who did almost everything she could to scuttle her chances for a happy life. This sort of self-sabotage and life traps as many psychologist call them are accurate for those who have had a long history of trauma. I do feel many will connect with this novel and it is this character perspective that will hook many readers. 

Well-written and a fast pace read, The Language of Flowers has many memorable lines that give much to ponder. Many of the lines give to the theme of the novel. For example, thistle has the Victorian meaning of pain. In the following line. Victorian understands how the many different levels of pain effect relationships. 

“Common thistle is everywhere,” she said. “Which is perhaps why human beings are so relentlessly unkind to one another.” 

My favorite line was, “If it was true that moss did not have roots, and maternal love could grow spontaneously as if from nothing, perhaps I had been wrong to believe myself unfit to raise my daughter. Perhaps the unattached, the unwanted, the unloved, could grow to give love as lushly as anyone else.” 

This amazing powerful line gives root to hope and change.I highly recommend The Language of Flowers by VanessaDiffenbaugh. I will read this author again and look forward to her next novel. I do caution those with a foster care past to take breaks as you are reading and to remember that all stories continue and the ending is your choice. We are all flowers with meaning. 

VANESSA DIFFENBAUGH was born in San Francisco and raised in Chico, California. After graduating from Stanford University, she worked in the non-profit sector, teaching art and technology to youth in low-income communities. Following the success of her debut novel, The Language of Flowers, she co-founded Camellia Network, a non-profit whose mission is to connect every youth aging out of foster care to the critical resources, opportunities, and support they need to thrive in adulthood. She currently lives in Monterey, CA, with her husband and four children.

Connect with Vanessa on Facebook and Twitter


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