A 2011 School Library Journal "Best Adult Book 4 Teens"
A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.
The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.
Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.
"Teens will relate to the book: there’s a push/pull romance, teen pregnancy, lots of feeling outcast and separate yet never descending into victimhood. On top of that, it’s smart, emotionally sophisticated, realistic, and beautifully written. Other books have explored the experiences of foster and abandoned youth. . . . The Language of Flowers soars above them." --School Library Journal, Adult Books 4 Teens
“Enchanting, ennobling, and powerfully engaging, Diffenbaugh’s artfully accomplished debut novel lends poignant testimony to the multitude of mysteries held in the human heart.”
-- Booklist (starred review)
“This heartbreaking debut novel about mothers and daughters, love, and the secret significance of flowers had me weeping with emotion and wonder. Victoria Jones is an unforgettable heroine and you will never look at flowers the same way again.”
-- Tatiana de Rosnay, author of Sarah’s Key
“Devastating, hopeful, and beautifully written, The Language of Flowers is a testament to the tender mercies and miraculous healing power of love.”—Beth Hoffman, author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
“A deftly powerful story of finding your way home, even after you’ve burned every bridge behind you, The Language of Flowers took my heart apart, chapter by chapter, then reassembled the broken pieces in better working condition. I loved this book.”—Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
“This hope-soaked, glorious book speaks to every once-broken, cracked, or poorly mended heart about the risks we take to heal, to be fully human, to truly connect. An astonishingly assured debut.”—Joshilyn Jackson, author of Gods in Alabama
“The Language of Flowers gives us new definitions of human compassion in all its forms. Bouquets of laurel and trumpet vine await this beautifully arranged story!”—Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
To write The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh found inspiration in her own experience as a foster mother. After studying creative writing and education at Stanford University, Vanessa taught art and writing to youth in low-income communities. She and her husband, PK, have three children and live in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This is her first novel.