I am often the first to admit a book’s faults: most books, of course, have many. But I also believe you can love a flawed book, sometimes deeply, and that at times, it’s not important if a book is imperfect but that you find pleasure between its pages, like hour after hour of slipping away from summer and into cool sheets.
At the time of this writing, it has been three days since I finished The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, and I feel no less bowled over by it than I did when I finally set it down. In retrospect, it was didactic and too neat – the story of Victoria Jones, a damaged and distant young woman who lived almost her entire life in the foster care system before her emancipation at 18, paralleled by the story of her one year of happiness at a younger age and the drama that led, of course, to heartbreak – but I’m just not sure I care about the weak spots. Sometimes a book’s emotional impact is enough.
The beauty in this story (and there is plenty more of it than one might expect even from a novel so deeply embedded with flowers) is in the pain and in the deliverance from that pain. That the author also delves deep into the complexities of what it means to be a mother and a daughter, biologically and otherwise, is unsurprising, but it’s the love here, that blooms against Victoria’s best wishes and better judgement, that’s so powerful.
What I know is that I was gripped by this book, and thankful that my friend, the inimitable Princess Mikkimoto, kept pushing me to read it. It felt like a bouquet of wildflowers: a little imperfect, a little more than moving, but also, somehow, just right.
FTC Disclosure: This review was based on a copy of the book that I borrowed from the public library.