My life was filled with pages and pages of fiction this year. Nearly all of the novels that I read fell into this genre. Well-crafted stories with lots of imagination, unexpected twists and turns, and strongly developed characters enveloped by an equally well executed emotional spectrum are always the right formula in my book. There were some fiction reads that missed the mark during my literature journey (I can’t for the life of me understand why Gone Girl was THE book to read this year); however, there was one story among them all that resonated with me and stood out as stellar. My favorite fiction read this year was…
The Language of Flowers
Vanessa Diffenbaugh (2011)
As the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover (or its title)! I was immediately consumed by this story, these characters, exploring their way of living, and how flowers are even more enchanting than I could ever imagine.
The Language of Flowers follows Victoria Jones right as she is emancipated from the foster care system at 18 years old. Victoria has no family, no friends, not much education, an understandably hard exterior, but a talent for communicating through flowers. Once hired by a local flower shop owner, Victoria begins to help her clientele send their message to loved ones through the impeccable arrangement of floral bouquets utilizing the Victorian language of flowers to express the right emotion. Victoria’s world unexpectedly evolves in a way that is very foreign her, something she initially rejects. Page by page, she learns how to open up, how to trust, and eventually how to fall in love. This is a tale of growing into yourself, your relationships, and ultimately facing the demons in your closet.
In some ways, I can relate to Victoria – being careful of who you let in and keeping your guard up to protect yourself – as I’m sure many of us do to different extents, but this story exposes the depths of what living this way does to the soul. Through the eyes of a young woman who one might think never really stood a chance being birthed into the foster care system, passed from home to home; one can see that if you really surround yourself with the right people, live for the right reasons, speak your own language, speak your own truth, and take a chance – life really isn’t so complicated after all. You might even end up with something better than you ever even imagined if you let it happen.
This was one of the best novels I’d read in awhile. I couldn’t put this book down.
*Book cover image courtesy: goodreads.com