Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway


Galilee “Gal” Garner isn’t the typical protagonist. I’ll just be honest—I didn’t like her. She was so rough and thorn like. She came off hard and callous. The truth is she’s had a rough go of life. I liked that she didn’t sit around and feel sorry for herself. Gal has kidney disease; she spent her days teaching high school science and most of her evenings sleeping at the hospital. She kept a strict schedule and strict diet. There were very few relationships with people in her life; she liked to keep people at arm’s length. She moved through her entire life with the knowledge that she could land in the hospital or die if she got sick. How sad to be burdened with knowing you could bring despair and loss to someone if you opened yourself up to loving them and letting them love you.

Gal put all her passion and energies into something safe…her roses. Gal is obsessed about creating a new variation of a Hulthemia Rose. Her green house and her roses are her life, love, her baby. Gal seemed perfectly content with how things were, but her world gets turned upside down when Gal’s sister sends her daughter to Gal to watch. Riley is a young girl who shows up unannounced and with lots of her own ‘baggage’. Riley grew up being tossed around from her mother (who is an addict), her grandparents to her father (who is now remarried and no longer around).

They seem to be exactly what the other one needs. Gal’s mothering instincts start to kick in and Riley begins to let Gal in—finding a safe spot.

For me, I found this to be a special book. I don’t think it would be easy to write about such an unlikable person. And at the same time there is this very slow peeling away of the old Gal, but Dilloway never strays too far. Gal always seems the same just better. I slowly began liking her the more or moreso I understood her more and wanted more for her. I loved Riley and felt bad for Riley. I loved how Riley grew.

I can’t say I put this book down and said “wow it was amazing,” but it was uplifting. Like I said, special. It felt real, like you were glimpsing into Gal’s life. It’s not a love story, but a story about the human spirit. It’s a novel I hope you will read. Take your time with it. Savor it.


Margaret Dilloway

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