Thursday, August 09, 2012

Review: The Language of Flowers

It seems like eons since I reviewed a book! I'm creeping through my reading lately, but the quality is still good, so I honestly can't complain too much. 

I picked up The Language of Flowers only because my new book club, the Girls Night Out book club, was discussing it in July. With some poking and prodding from Trish, I got off my butt and finally read the book on time (mostly) and was so thrilled to meet the group. And honestly, this is not a book I would've picked up on my own. Something about the premise made me expect cliche. I'm not too keen on "troubled young adults coming of age." I'm glad this one proved me wrong...

Victoria is turning 18 and finally free from the American foster care and adoption system. She no longer has to live in a group home, and she soon strikes out on her own facing homelessness and potential bodily harm living in the parks of San Francisco. Luckily, she find Renata, a florist shop owner willing to give Victoria a chance. We also find out about the biggest near-miss in Victoria's plight to be adopted growing up. 

Throughout the novel, the chapters flip flop back and forth between Victoria as an 18-year old making her way in the world and Victoria as a child as she lands in the care of Elizabeth, a vineyard owner. While I usually object to this form of storytelling (again, I expect cliche and it's been done), I enjoyed it a great deal here. There are definite parallels between the two time periods and one can't help but pull for Victoria to get it right already. To grow some courage and sticktoitiveness. 

The challenges Victoria faces are immense, and heaven knows I didn't agree with her choices much of the time, but I didn't find the narrative unbelievable. That is, everything she did seemed very much in character. 

What ultimately saves this book from being a huge downer is the inclusion of "the language of flowers"...the Victorian system of communicating messages through arrangements of flowers (each variety has a meaning). Victoria is great with flowers and learned the language of flowers from her potential adopter, Elizabeth. Working in a florist shop, it makes her a huuuuuge hit, as the emotions the flowers represent manifest themselves in the recipients' lives. It's not a huge magical realist element, just a touch. And it's never portrayed as magical...might just be the owners' own intentions coming to life with a little extra push from Victoria's flowers to give them some confidence. 

I haven't done the plot a particular lot of justice. There's A LOT that happens in this book, but I suppose you'll just have to read it yourself. Take my word, it's worth a try!

Rating:
Snuggle -- Skewer


Edition Pub. Date: April 2012
Publisher: Random House
Format: E-book
ISBN-13: 9780345525550
Source: Bought it!

13 comments:

  1. I was also expecting some cliches when I first picked up the book, but I ended up loving it. Great review! :)

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  2. I can see why your reading is slow - you have a lot going on. I read this book for my book club and I adored it!

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  3. I'm glad you enjoyed this one because I was pleasantly surprised by it too. I agree that Victoria was a believable character all the way through and even though I didn't agree with all of her choices, I was rooting for her.

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  4. Thanks for your review. I also enjoyed it very much, here is my review: http://wordsandpeace.com/2011/10/07/73-review-the-language-of-flowers/

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  5. Sounds interesting enough to try at least :)

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  6. I want to read this one as well, but the premise has put my off so far. Mainly because I'm not a huge flower lover (does this make me evil?). I'm going to have to get over myself and give it a go one day!

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  7. You're getting more reading done than me (or is that "than I am"?). I took this on vacation with me. It's still sitting around unread. And unpacked.

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  8. I enjoyed this one a lot. I wasn't sure what to expect but since I'm a gardener I thought the flower aspect would appeal to me... and I was right, it did. I did get frustrated with Victoria a few times but I suppose that was the author's intent, considering her background.

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  9. Yay -- glad to see this is a snuggle. I actually just requested it on audio from the library and should be getting to it very soon... sounded like an interesting premise, and I love the idea of communicating through flowers!

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  10. I have to read this one yet... just have not got there. :)

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  11. I loved this book so much, it just kept breaking my heart over and over again, and stitching it up in so many small ways. It was such an emotionally resonant read for me, and for a lot of others as well. Fantastic review today, Andi.

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  12. I want to read this book at some point. I have been hearing lots about it! Another good post about it.

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  13. As a foster parent, the only part I felt wasn't believable was that being abandoned as a baby & she wasn't ever adopted? Although she threw fits, she wasn't "unadoptable."

    I listened to this beginning w the 2nd download & was 10 chapters in before I realized it, so I kind of spoiled it for myself.

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