Book Review: The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns – Margaret Dilloway

Title: The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns
Author: Margaret Dilloway
ISBN: 9780399157752
Pages: 368
Release Date: August 2, 2012
Publisher: Putnam
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary:

Gal Garner is a biology teacher, and between that and her kidney disease, which requires her to go to the hospital multiple times per week for dialysis, she doesn’t have much time for hobbies. Gal makes the time for her roses, though. Gal doesn’t just grow roses; she breeds them, and she dreams of creating a prizewinning rose. For now, though, she is content with experimenting with her roses, All that changes, though, when her teenage niece Riley appears on her doorstep. Gal panics because she doesn’t have time to deal with a teenager, but she quickly realizes that Riley needs her. As Gal struggles to balance her life, will she find the happiness and health she so desires?

Review:

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns is a contemplative novel that has many facets.  Gal is a prickly (no pun intended) woman who likes things to be her way. She has a routine and she doesn’t like to interrupt it. It’s Gal’s way of controlling her unpredictable life; she’s at the mercy of her kidneys, waiting for a transplant that she isn’t sure will come, and having everything in order is her way of coping. So when Riley shows up and upsets Gal’s neatly sectioned life, Gal isn’t thrilled.

But Gal quickly realizes that Riley needs her. Gal’s younger sister has always been irresponsible, so Gal is hardly surprised that she dumped her daughter on her sister with no notice. Riley is a great teenager, though she’s unsure of herself. She acts out like any other adolescent, but it’s clear that underneath she has serious abandonment issues. Riley wants to work hard and prove herself, and Gal realizes she has to make room for that.

This is a serious novel, but it’s never heavy or difficult to read. Gal has a lot to learn about herself, and some of these lessons are very hard realizations. Her character growth over the course of the novel is incredible, and that’s saying something considering she was fully realized when the novel began. I can’t say enough amazing things about Dilloway’s ability to write sympathetic characters the reader absolutely falls in love with. Readers will be very invested emotionally in both Gal and Riley; their ups and downs will affect the reader greatly. This is a book where the reader will laugh and cry, but will never fail to be entertained.

Gal’s rose-breeding adds an important element to the story in The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns. Not only does it provide Gal an escape, a haven, but it also gives her something to look forward to. Before Riley, Gal’s life consisted of her job and dialysis. She had few close friends; roses gave her something to fill up her life. The dream of winning “Queen of Show” for one of her roses – it was enough to keep her going, to make her fight to live. Not only that, but the reader gets to learn about breeding roses, and Dilloway’s engaging writing style makes the subject simply fascinating.

I could go on and on about The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns for a simple reason: I absolutely loved it. I was completely riveted by this novel, completely invested in the outcome and Gal’s character growth. Dilloway’s an exceptionally talented writer, and I only regret one thing: that I didn’t pick up Dilloway’s much-lauded debut How to Be an American Housewife sooner. I can assure you I will be remedying that as expediently as possible.

Affiliate Links:

Buy this book from Powell’s Books
Buy this book from Amazon.com
Buy this book from your local Indiebound bookstore

Comments

  1. So glad to see this is a great one! I absolutely loved (LOVED) How to Be an American Housewife — it was one of my favorite reads of 2010. Dilloway is a fantastic writer. Can’t wait to pick this one up!

  2. So glad to see this is a great one! I absolutely loved (LOVED) How to Be an American Housewife — it was one of my favorite reads of 2010. Dilloway is a fantastic writer. Can’t wait to pick this one up!

  3. Ever so grateful I read your review because A) I didn’t realize this was by the same author of How to be an American Housewife which was excellent and B) I was able to get a copy from the Vine. Thanks Doll!

  4. Ever so grateful I read your review because A) I didn’t realize this was by the same author of How to be an American Housewife which was excellent and B) I was able to get a copy from the Vine. Thanks Doll!

  5. I do think this sounds like a multi-layered read, and I am not only interested in the story, but in the details about the roses as well. This was such a lovely review today. I loved the thought and patience that went into building it. Thanks!

  6. I do think this sounds like a multi-layered read, and I am not only interested in the story, but in the details about the roses as well. This was such a lovely review today. I loved the thought and patience that went into building it. Thanks!

  7. Wow! I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve seen you give a 5…so naturally I feel I must check this out. :)

  8. Wow! I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve seen you give a 5…so naturally I feel I must check this out. :)

  9. This sounds so interesting! I never got to How to be an American Housewife but I always wanted to… which would you suggest I read first?

  10. This sounds so interesting! I never got to How to be an American Housewife but I always wanted to… which would you suggest I read first?

Leave a Reply

Comment Policy:  I welcome comments and read each one I receive. If your comment needs a response, I will provide it in a timely manner, as I read every comment I receive. Please keep your comments civil and polite! I reserve the right to delete any comments that are rude or inappropriate. Because of spam, I have to moderate comments on old posts. Please be patient - I will approve your comment quickly.