“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”- L.M. Montgomery
That’s how I think of this brand new year, as though it is fresh, with no mistakes in it. I’ve always loved that quote, partly because I love Anne of Green Gables and partly because it brims with hope. Hope is the predominant emotion I feel going into 2012. Perhaps that’s why I was so moved by this month’s book club selection, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. Despite the emotional tug-of-war I felt while reading, it is, at heart, a story of hope.
This novel will break your heart. It will frustrate you in ways you didn’t think a book possibly could. You will fall in love with a tenacious young women who does not know how to love or be loved. It’s a novel you won’t soon forget.
We are extremely lucky to have Vanessa Diffenbaugh on She Reads this month. This is her debut novel and its popularity has made her very much in demand. As of this week, The Language of Flowers has been published in over 40 countries. Yet Vanessa kindly agreed to spend time with us over the next few weeks. And her publisher, Ballantine Books, has generously provided a handful of prizes to our readers. The main prize winner will receive a copy of The Language of Flowers, a copy of A Victorian Flower Dictionary: The Language of Flowers Companion, and a custom flower arrangement/gift certificate to 1-800-Flowers. Rules of entry are simple: leave a comment on this post. One winner will be randomly chosen at the end of January.
The second prize is exclusive to readers who participate in this month’s online book club discussion. Vanessa’s publisher is giving away the full audio recording of The Language of Flowers to one participant. Each comment left on the forum equals one entry. There is no cost or commitment to join the She Reads book club. We provide this service for book lovers who do not have time or availability to join a local group.
The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, aster for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.
Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes that she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market inspires her to question what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.
Vanessa Diffenbaugh was born in San Francisco and raised in Chico, California. After studying creative writing and education at Stanford, she went on to teach art and writing to youth in low-income communities. She and her husband, PK, have three children: Tre’von, eighteen; Chela, four; and Miles, three. Tre’von, a former foster child, is attending New York University on a Gates Millennium Scholarship. Diffenbaugh and her family currently live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where her husband is studying urban school reform at Harvard.
Vanessa Diffenbaugh is also the founder of the Camellia Network. The mission of the Camellia Network is to create a nationwide movement to support youth transitioning from foster care. In The Language of Flowers, Camellia [kuh-meel-yuh] means “My Destiny is in Your Hands.” The network’s name emphasizes the belief in the interconnectedness of humanity: each gift a young person receives will be accompanied by a camellia, a reminder that the destiny of our nation lies in the hands of our youngest citizens. For more information visit www.camellianetwork.org