language of flowers

Book Club Guest Blog: The Language of Flowers and Nature vs. Nuture

April 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm , by

Todays’s post is by Neely Kennedy of Reading Group Choices, a leading online resource for book club tips and discussible selections.

In The Language of Flowers, the LHJ Book Club pick for May, author Vanessa Diffenbaugh tells the moving story of Victoria Jones, a young woman whose journey through the foster-care system has taught her to be untrusting of herself, the world, and the people in it.  Isolated and alone, only her treasured Victorian language of flowers allows her to communicate her true emotions. But until she meets a young man in a flower market, only she understands the message.

Desperate to survive following emancipation from foster care at age eighteen, Victoria is forced to answer the question … “Can we grow past our limitations?”  Below are examples from the book that show, for Victoria, flowers are not only a way to communicate, but a symbol of her ability to transcend her personal history.

Message of Hope
Excited to finally have the tools to communicate, Victoria gives her foster mother thistle, a symbol of her hatred for mankind, and  ironically it bonds them to each other.

“Thistle!” I said, handing her the jar. “For you,” I added. I reached out awkwardly and patted her once on the shoulder. It was perhaps the first time in my entire life I had initiated contact with another human being-at least the first time in my memory.

New Beginnings
Just before her eighteenth birthday, Victoria is warned she must find a job in order to remain in the group home, or else be homeless, but instead she spends her days nurturing her first garden.

“Back in my room, I spread out the shocked roots gently, covered them with the nutrient-rich soil, and watered deeply. The milk jugs drained right onto the carpet, and as the days passed, weeds began to sprout from the worn fiber.” 

Read more below for more discussion points — but they contain some spoilers!

 

Read more


Book Club Wrap-Up: Signs of Life

April 11, 2012 at 5:00 pm , by

Natalie Taylor kept us in stitches (and near a box of tissues), with her hilarious yet gut-wrenching memoir, Signs of Life, last month. She unabashedly allowed readers to dive into her psyche during the months after the sudden death of her husband and birth of her first-born son. And we’re so glad that Natalie continued to be candid with us all month long, game for a Q&A and Facebook chat about the book. If you haven’t yet picked up Signs of Life, read her letter to readers now–you’ll want to run out to the nearest book store by the second paragraph.

But now that our May issue is officially on newsstands (doesn’t cover star Melissa McCarthy look great?), it’s time to reveal our next pick! This month, we’re reading The Language of Flowers, the illustrious debut novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, a true labor of love. Though the story of a young woman aging out of the foster care system and finding joy in the world of flowers is fictional, Diffenbaugh means it to be a symbol of a cause dear to her heart—creating a better outlook on life for the many young people who leave the foster care system each year. Find out more about why this is so important to Diffenbaugh in her Q&A with us, and her letter to readers. And, as always, stay with us on Facebook, Twitter, and right here on our blog to join the conversation as we chat about the book all month long.

We’re hosting a live Facebook chat with Vanessa Diffenbaugh on Thursday, April 26 at 1:00pm EST! Mark your calendars, and come to our wall to ask Vanessa a question about The Language of Flowers, her life as a writer, or her philanthropic efforts. We hope to see you there!