Arden Reviews: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

IMG_2052Book:  The Language of Flowers

Author:  Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Genre:  Fiction

Basic Description:  The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating 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 with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning 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.

Arden’s Thoughts: I think it’s fair to say that most of us don’t want to be judgmental. We want to give people the benefit of the doubt or believe they’re doing the best they can.

But, what if you learned a person left her newborn baby in an apartment alone while she went to the grocery store? Would you be so quick to allow this person to explain herself or label her a bad mother?

What if you learned she’s barely 19 and had no support system because she’s a product of the foster system? That she lived with multiple families before she was deemed unadoptable. From age 10 until 18 she lived in a group home and at 18 she aged out of the system with no high school degree, no training, and no place to call home.

What would you think about her then?

It’s interesting how a book, a fictional character, can shake up the way we see the world. I’ve recently been introduced to an organization called Youth Villages, a private nonprofit organization dedicated to helping emotionally and behaviorally troubled children and their families live successfully. I’m working with the fine folks in Charlotte on its fundraising event KiteTales: An Evening of Stories That Soar that will benefit a program dedicated to helping young people like Victoria.

The event will take place May 2 from 6-9 p.m. at the Mint Museum Uptown. Our guest speaker will be New York Times best-selling author Vanessa Diffenbaugh. You’re invited!

Funds raised from KiteTales will support YVLifeSet, a program within Youth Villages. Since 1999, YVLifeSet has helped provide young adults with the tools they need to realize their own amazing potential. The model has been refined and tested and refined some more, but YVLifeSet begins with one simple tenet: Believing in the potential of every single kid to become an incredible adult. What an outstanding opportunity for our next generation.

What I loved about this book, and how it drew me into Youth Villages so rapidly, is I got to see Victoria be honest with who she is but also open up to the potential of being a stronger version of herself. She could actually love her daughter, be a mother, and be a functioning part of a family. She had never seen that scenario play out positively so it took her a long time to believe it could. It also took really patient people to love her through the process.

It excites me when a book can spark a new passion within me. The Language of Flowers sparked a fire to dive in deeper with Youth Villages. I invite you to consider diving in too. Save the date and plan to attend Kite Tales May 2, from 6-9 p.m. at the Mint Museum Uptown. For more information, email John Horton, director of development, at or me at


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