This book broke my heart – again and again. “The Language of Flowers” is a difficult book to read, primarily because the main character is self-destructive, with a devastating past. It is the story of Victoria, a young woman who has just been released from foster care upon reaching the age of 18. Her unruly and violent behavior have led to her being passed from one home to the next. Upon emancipation, she finds herself without a job and eventually without a home. Victoria isn’t without skills, though. From a previous foster mother, she learned the language of flowers, a forgotten Victorian era art. During that time, a bunch of honeysuckle signaled devotion and a bouquet of red roses meant love. Her uncommon talent helps her find work with a high-end florist. During her weekly visits to the flower market, she soon meets a mysterious flower vendor who is either highly presumptuous or knows her from her past. This man will force her to confront her past and all the pain she has caused and the horrible injustices done to her by a seemingly brutal, uncaring foster system.
The chapters alternate between Victoria’s present and past, filling in the gaps to clue the reader into why she is so closed off from everyone around her. Victoria carries a secret, one that makes her feel unworthy to ever give or receive love. I found it impossible to relate to Victoria because I cannot truly empathize with her, having never gone through what she had. However, it was educational for me to try to force myself into her shoes so I could understand that when people make decisions, they often do not choose the intelligent, healthy, or safe option. I may not have been able to empathize with her self-destructive behavior, but I could certainly sympathize, which made me care very much about Victoria and how her story would end.