In a world where talk is cheap, debut author Vanessa Diffenbaugh has written a captivating novel in which a single sprig of rosemary speaks louder than words. "The Language of Flowers" is the story of young Victoria Jones, a recently emancipated ward of the state who cares for no one and for nothing except the small garden she tends in a forgotten corner of a park in San Francisco. Slowly Victoria is drawn out of her hard shell when she meets and is hired by Renata, a neighborhood florist, and quickly becomes a local sensation when she creates arrangements that are for more than pure decoration. Victoria strictly adheres to the language of flowers that was popular during Victorian times -- a fern stands for "sincerity" while a pansy says "think of me" -- and when the pain of a life spent in the foster care system becomes more than she can bear, she uses her own "secret" language to express her emotions.

Diffenbaugh's use of short alternating chapters of Victoria's past and present can be initially off-putting, but the reader will quickly adjust to its rhythm. As Victoria learns to open up to her burgeoning success, and a renewed relationship, she also confronts the pain of her past and bravely accepts her own limitations. "The Language of Flowers" deftly weaves the sweetness of newfound love with the heartache of past mistakes in a novel that will certainly change how you choose your next bouquet.