Sunday, June 03, 2012

The Language of Flowers

As soon as I noticed The Language of Flowers on the library's new book shelf, I grabbed it. Unlike my old book, this one is a fiction story written by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I loved this novel despite not liking the lead character, Victoria. She treated people who were kind to her, horribly. Hard to like someone who would repay kindness in such a manner.

Victoria was abandoned as a baby; shuffled around from foster home to foster home, to orphanage. It does not seem that she suffered much abuse at the hands of her foster parents, more like neglect. It seems to me if there had been more horrid abuse, it would be easier to understand how Victoria became so mean and spiteful.

When she turned 18, no longer a ward of the state, she created a plant filled haven in the forest part of a park. When she prepares to leave the orphanage, she thinks: "I didn't look homeless. Not yet, at least." LOL She had dressed in multiple layers of clothing. Unable to fit blanket into her backpack, she pinned it in pleats at her waist. She was still clean, and fresh, but the outfit screamed: homeless to me!

Asked what her secret was to staying thin: "It's simple, I thought. Be broke, friendless, and homeless. Spend weeks eating other people's leftovers, or nothing at all."

Victoria would go to a busy restaurant, quickly take the seat of a patron who left, then finish what was on their plate, moving on to the next empty table to gobble up more food. As a former waitress, I am sure I would have noticed a different customer eating off the previous customer's plate. I worked in some very busy restaurants. Paid attention to my customers. Perhaps the San Francisco establishments were much larger. I kept picturing downtown Long Beach, outdoor tables ~ easy to spot uneaten food, servers inside, easier to take over.

Perhaps I saw Long Beach homeless, reaching over low railings to grab food then run. Memory vague.

As Victoria views a raging fire, she is determined to put it out, least the homeowner "be left on scorched earth, homeless and alone."

What I liked about The Language of Flowers is how Victoria secured a job at a florist. Her knowledge of the meaning of flowers was a plus. Reading about the floral design work, flowers in general and the meanings,  I got nostalgic for my brief florist stints, and my long gone book.

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