Thursday, July 26, 2012

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

I'm sure a few of you thought I was dead or enduring preterm labor, but I have actually been having computer problems (pray for my little gal!) and blogging on my phone just isn't an option -- it's smart, but not that smart. Or I'm not that smart. One or the other. Anyway, I'm busting at the seams with things to tell you, but I had to borrow my mom's laptop and sneak away from my little sweetie to bring you this book review on time, and using someone else's keyboard is in my top five most frustrating endeavors, so I may or may not have time to write all the things I've been dying to write when I'm done with this. We shall see.

What I DO have for you is a review of the novel The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns
by Margaret Dilloway. I may be the only person who had never heard of Dilloway before this, who knows, so what I got was a nice surprise of a read. 

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns tells the story of Galilee Garner, a single high school biology teacher, long-time dialysis patient waiting for new kidneys, rose breeder, and above all, curmudgeon. You definitely think you are reading about a jaded older lady, but you are actually meeting a 36-year-old who is much much older than her biological age and doesn't care one bit. Gal's teenage niece shows up unexpectedly one day, and, as you might expect, her life changes drastically.

My opinion of the book is very easily broken down, really:

What I didn't like: Within the first few pages, Gal says her roses are "Difficult and obstinate. Thriving under a set of specific and limited conditions. That pretty much describes me. Maybe that's why I like these roses so much." I NEVER want to read lines like that. Let me connect the dots myself (especially in this case, because honestly, who WOULDN'T). I also wasn't a HUGE fan of how predictable about 95% of the plot was. After reading the first three chapters, I pretty much had an idea of how the rest of the book would play out, but honestly, that ended up not bothering me at all, and I kept powering through the book, even though I assumed I knew how it would turn out.

What I really liked about the book: The characters! I would find it very hard to believe that someone could read this book and NOT like at least one of the main characters and not also marvel at the beautiful way Dilloway brings ALL of her characters to life, even the "scenery" characters. Like I already said, I had a good idea of how things would play out, but because the characters were so amazing, you wanted to read every little detail about them that you could. I also thought all the details about rose breeding were very interesting. Even more fascinating to me was the fact that Dilloway had gone to such lengths to research and present the information she did. Even if she herself were a rose breeder, it would be a lot of work to organize and get on paper. In addition to that, I went back and re-read a few sections, skipping the parts where Gal is describing the intricacies of what she is doing in her greenhouse, and the book reads just as well, which is great for any reader who decides they love the characters but are over the "rose stuff." It must take a lot of hard work to make the book read just as well both ways, so I applaud Dilloway on that level as well.

What I didn't like about this book was very minor in comparison to what I liked about it. Like I said, if I am unable to put a book down, it's definitely working, since I have become that type of person who, if I roll my eyes and get mad about something in the first few pages, I'm much more apt to put the book down and never return than to press on. The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns was a nice read that left me thinking about the characters long after I finished the book. Brava!

If you'd like to see what other bloggers in the BlogHer book club had to say about this book, click on over HERE, and if you've read the book yourself, be sure to join the discussions going on there or read a post by Margaret Dilloway

I was given a free copy of The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns and was compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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