The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns

I’ve done it: I’ve completed my 9th book in my 12 books in 2012 challenge. I am still on track: hooray!

Book #9 was a novel by Margaret Dilloway: The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns.


The story follows Galilee Garner (aka Gal) – she lives a structured, regimented life due to a kidney disease. Gal has been in need of a new kidney for years and has been ill since childhood. She splits her time between working as a biology teacher at a private high school, traveling back and forth to the hospital, and attending to her passion: roses. Gal works in her garden and greenhouse to breed new varieties of Hulthemia roses with the hope of one day winning Queen of Show in a rose competition, which will allow her to bring her creation to market.

The regularity and structure of Gal’s life is turned upside down out of the blue one day by the arrival of her sister Becky’s teenage daughter, Riley. She has to transition from a single woman who is set in her ways (and her views) to a caregiver and guardian for a high school student. The story delves into Gal’s struggle to serve a motherly role to her teenage niece. It also explores Gal’s family life and how they have all had to deal separately with Gal’s illness over the years: from supportive (and perhaps a bit smothering) parents who will drop everything to rush to Gal’s side at any sign of trouble to her sister Becky, who is estranged, a bit of a mess, and seems resentful of her sister.

I have to say I really enjoyed reading this novel as a part of my summer reading. Gal’s character really made you think. Consider how life would be if you had to live with an illness like hers, which requires hospital visits (overnight) a few times a week. Living such a restricted and regimented life certainly would put strain on an individual, and I can understand why Gal had a somewhat bitter attitude and wasn’t exactly easy to get along with. I’m pretty sure I’d feel similarly if placed in her shoes. The story also makes you think about friendships and relationships with others. Gal’s friend from work, Dara, is constantly there to help Gal, without ever calling back on her for anything in return. I know I’ve felt the frustration of one-way friendships in the past and how they can eventually eat away at a relationship, no matter how close you are. They are not lying when they say that friendships are a 2-way street!

All in all, this novel was a wonderful creation from Margaret Dilloway, telling a great tale about family, friendship, growth, and forgiveness. Put it on your list of books to read!

Visit the BlogHer Book Club page for The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns here.

And, if you’d like to follow along with my book collection on Goodreads, find my profile here!

***This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.***

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