Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns, by Margaret Dilloway.

Most people are surprised by my rose hobby. I took more like I'd have a secret science lab in my basement, a torture chamber, perhaps, than a rose garden. Roses are frilly and soft and sweet-smelling, which I am not. If you saw me in the teacher lineup, our faces bathed in harsh light against the black height lines, would you pick me for the rose lover? No. You would pick someone like Dara, the art teacher, with her carefully messed halo of Botticelli curls. Or Mrs. Wingate, the English teacher, whose fluffy circle skirts sometimes remind me of roses in their layers and frilliness. Not plainspoken me, squinting unmercifully back at you, my eyes barely visible behind my round gray-tinted lenses. A garden gnome without the jolly expression.

Galilee, who goes by "Gal," teaches biology at a Catholic school, and has a bad kidney; she goes in for dialysis frequently. She's close with her parents but not so much with her sister, Becky, and niece, Riley - until Riley shows up at Gal's school one day, saying that Becky has taken a new job in Hong Kong and wants Riley to stay with her. At first, Gal is not okay with this, but as time passes, she begins to enjoy spending time with Riley, and being a surrogate parent / "legal guardian."

Gal also has a unique hobby: breeding roses. The beginning of this novel was a little dry because it was all about the roses and Gal's obsession with them, but once it started to delve into her personal life, it began to pick up and become more interesting. Gal wants to breed a unique rose and perhaps even win a prize for it at a rose show, but she has some stiff competition, and soon learns that people aren't always who they seem to be.

For the most part, I liked this novel. Gal has an interesting life and a quirky perspective on things, and this is able to be shown throughout since the novel is written in the first-person. She's very stubborn and expects people to follow through on their promises, which doesn't always work out in the "real world," but at the same time she's also very smart and witty. The characters in this book all seemed like they could exist in real life, and that is part of what made the novel work so well.

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns will be in stores on August 2nd. 3.5 stars out of 5.

*Disclosure: I was compensated for writing this review for the BlogHer Book Club. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

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