This was such a strangely enchanting read for me. Have you ever read a story that you had no intentions of being similar to your life, but then little by little it was? No? Okay well let me explain. Growing up, we resided near my mother’s side of the family. She is the eldest of 3 sisters & for a long time, I was the only kid. I have a sister (11 years my elder) & a cousin. He is younger than me & a boy. There’s a big difference between forcing a boy to do things & having a very enthusiastic girl. I spent a lot of time with my aunts here & there. I think I had forgotten that until I read this book.
The Care & Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway was instantly a book that drew me in. I’m a sucker for roses. I’m currently trying to garden a bit (mostly herbs) so the scientific bits spread throughout the novel were fascinating. My mother loves roses but man, not the thumb for it. My dad was constantly saving them from utter destruction. She really loved them though. I did too. We even had a bread that was mini rainbow type shades. I remember praying when I started my seedlings that I would take after the rest of my family & not my poor plant killing mother. Lucky indeed.
Gal Garner is the main character, a biology teacher with a true gift & passion for growing & breeding roses. Riley is her niece who gets dropped on Gal by her addiction-ridden sister. Gal isn’t exactly equipped to take care of a kid. She doesn’t make much money teaching (even less than public school teachers!), is pretty internal, & of course there’s the kidney disease. This is one of those stories where you think “nope not for me” because you just know it will make you cry. But its not what you expect. There’s this beautiful undercurrent of humor & with the rose specimen knowledge being a heavy theme throughout it is so much more than a crying book. Its pretty much impossible not to fall for the characters.
We used to go to the Orchid Show every year as a kid. Orchids are my favorite flower, in fact, I have them tattooed on my shoulder. I would go with my (not addiction driven by perfectly normal) mom & aunts every year. I wonder now why we ever stopped. Did I turn into a snotty teenager? Was it just too far away? Too many people. I think we should go again, it was beautiful.
The Care & Handling of Roses with Thorns will be available on August 2nd, 2012. I urge you to check it out. Please check out our on discussion on BlogHer & please let me know if this sounds like a book that interests you!. Disclosure: I was compensated for writing this review for the BlogHer Book Club. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.