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Recommended Reading

Vanessa Diffenbaugh, 'The Language of Flowers'
Book review by: Nancy Gongloff


Nancy Gongloff is a recently retired RN with her BS from Syracuse University and a year of post graduate training in drug treatment. She briefly worked as a counselor for men in prison ages 16-21 but ended up spending twenty years in college health. Her and her husband served as foster parents for newborn infants back when that was standard procedure prior to adopting. Nancy and her husband have to adopted children, now adults as well as four beloved grandchildren. She has been a United Methodist Pastor's wife for forty years and her own words, remains "relatively sane."

Review

The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh is a novel incidentally written by a foster and adoptive mother, about a young woman's life in, and emancipation from, foster care at the age of eighteen with alternating chapters from her past and her present.  The novel weaves an enumeration of her pain, loss, struggles with attachment, feelings of unworthiness, resilience, and so many other frequently seen positive and "not so much" characteristics of adopted and foster children.  Our heroine is Victoria, who exits foster care with few skills, but a love for flowers and their meanings in Victorian times, learned in a foster home where she hoped to be adopted, but in a heartbreaking series of mistakes and misunderstandings is doomed to age out of group care, instead.  Her ingenuity and will to survive and allow the possibility of love and redemption, make us continue to be on her side and cheer when we finish reading. 

This is fiction; in the sense that we experience fiction in our care for kids.  Is this true?  If not exactly for me, and not exactly for you, it is still as true as it gets.  Flawed, loving parents can help these children to experience their own redemption. This is a disturbing book worth reading.

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