For eight years I dreamed of fire. Trees ignited as I passed them; oceans burned. The sugary smoke settled in my hair as I slept, the scent like a cloud left on my pillow as I rose. Even so, the moment my mattress started to burn, I bolted awake. The sharp, chemical smell was nothing like the hazy syrup of my dreams; the two were as different as Indian and Carolina jasmine, separation and attachment. They could not be confused.
Standing in the middle of the room, I located the source of the fire. A neat row of wooden matches lined the foot of the bed. They ignited, one after the next, a glowing picket fence across the piped edging. Watching them light, I felt a terror unequal to the size of the flickering flames, and for a paralyzing moment I was ten years old again, desperate and hopeful in a way I had never been before and would never be again.
But the bare synthetic mattress did not ignite like the thistle had in late October. It smoldered, and then the fire went out.
It was my eighteenth birthday.
In the living room, a row of fidgeting girls sat on the sagging couch. Their eyes scanned my body and settled on my bare, unburned feet. One girl looked relieved; another disappointed. If I’d been staying another week, I would have remembered each expression. I would have retaliated with rusty nails in the soles of shoes or small pebbles in bowls of chili. Once, I’d held the end of a glowing metal clothes hanger to a sleeping roommate’s shoulder, for an offense less severe than arson.
But in an hour, I’d be gone. The girls knew this, every one.
From the center of the couch, a girl stood up. She looked young—?fifteen, sixteen at most—and was pretty in a way I didn’t see much of: good posture, clear skin, new clothes. I didn’t immediately recognize her, but when she crossed the room there was something familiar about the way she walked, arms bent and aggressive. Though she’d just moved in, she was not a stranger; it struck me that I’d lived with her before, in the years after Elizabeth, when I was at my most angry and violent.
Inches from my body, she stopped, her chin jutting into the space between us.
“The fire,” she said evenly, “was from all of us. Happy birthday.”
Excerpted from The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. Copyright © 2011 by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
When Victoria Jones turns 18, she is no longer eligible for support in the foster care system. But life on her own is no easy feat and she is soon reduced to sleeping in a park. The remarkable garden she cultivates brings her comfort and soon after her talent with flowers catches the eye of Renata, a kindly shop owner who takes pity on the girl and gives her a job. Victoria’s understanding of flowers—that hawthorn is for hope, honeysuckle for devotion, or daisy for innocence—is as extraordinary as her ability to discern people’s needs and find blossoms that can help them. Soon she has a thriving clientele of her own. If only Victoria could make things right for herself….
Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers is a lush and magnificent tale of a young girl’s struggle to find happiness in a world that hasn’t always treated her well. Yet, there was once someone who cared. She taught Victoria everything she knows about the language of flowers. What happened between them is a source of deep shame for Victoria, and it will take a young man who speaks the same language to show her that she must weed through her tangled past before the beauty in her heart can at long last flourish.
Hardcover Book : 336 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books Inc./Random House ( August 23, 2011 )
Item #: 13-402417
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.76inches
Product Weight: 13.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
I would definitely recommend this book. Great characters and loved learning about "the language of flowers". Great read!!
Loved this book. Loved the women characters, they were equal parts strong and fragile which made the characters so interesting and real. Loved the "language of flowers" connection.
Reviewer: Cheryl Y
I read this book awhile ago and still think about it often,especially when I receive flowers or see ads for florists,or see the difference some people can make in a childs life.Very well written and a definate page turner !
Reviewer: Cheryl Y
Beautiful and different from anything I've ever read. A book to savor. Both sad and uplifting. It is a nice break from my usual mysteries, paranormal romances and detective thrillers.