2.5 stars. I’m trying to figure out if this book really did have serious flaws or if it was just wasn’t a fit for me and my tastes. It’s very possible that it’s a mixture of both. Obviously I made it through to the end and it wasn’t a hate read so it wasn’t a terrible book, but I found it to be an incredibly frustrating read. The beginning was almost magical in the way it drew me in. By two-thirds of the way through though, I was debating whether I could continue.
The main character, Victoria, has had a really difficult life. She grew up in foster care dealing with various levels of abuse and neglect all the way through. When she’s ten, she gets placed with a single woman running a vineyard who is determined to have Victoria be a part of her family despite Victoria’s insistence that she hates everyone and everything. Flash forward to Victoria’s 18th birthday when she’s leaving her foster group home into transitional housing. All she cares about is growing flowers and she literally thinks of nothing else, even though she should be looking for a job so she doesn’t become homeless.
The book jumps between her life at ten and eighteen. I’ve read many books that jump between times or narratives that were well done, but The Language of Flowers was a little uneven. I get that Diffenbaugh was trying to draw out the parallels between the storylines and create a little mystery, it just didn’t always work. I’m sure this was a good representation of what it’s like to be in foster care because the author works with foster kids. While I appreciate that, I had a hard time connecting to the character. I generally like hard-to-like female characters so I couldn’t figure out why Victoria was different. After some thought, I think it’s that Victoria is a really closed off person who can’t communicate or trust anyone with her secrets and yet, the author chose to tell this story with first person narration. So Victoria’s pouring her guts to the reader while supposedly being closed off to human connection. In my mind, the disconnect was huge. The fact that I listened to the audiobook version probably compounded that issue.
I didn’t know that this book would be so relentlessly grim, so know that going into it. Looking at the reviews on goodreads it seems like many people liked it more than me, so if it sounds interesting, give it a try.