The Language of Flowers

Photo: Philip Friedman/Studio D

5 of 27
The Language of Flowers
336 pages; Ballantine
In Vanessa Diffenbaugh's fascinating debut novel, The Language of Flowers (Ballantine), jaded 18-year-old Victoria Jones strikes out on her own after a lifetime in foster homes. Her present is juxtaposed with childhood scenes of the years she lived with Elizabeth, a vineyard owner who introduced her to the Victorian-era language of flowers. That language, once used by lovers to express intimate sentiments, helps Victoria through her troubles, until a chance discovery shakes her fragile sense of identity. Diffenbaugh, herself a foster mother, clearly knows both the human heart and her plants, and she keeps us rooting for the damaged Victoria, who comes, finally, to understand that "the unattached, the unwanted, the unloved [can] grow to give love as lushly as anyone else."
— Arianna Davis