Book Review: The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns
by Margaret Dilloway

368 pages
Putnam, 2012
List price: $26.95

The best time to write a review on a book is usually right after you’ve read it. But sometimes, taking a little time to think about what you’ve just read is better. Of course, not all books are worthy of much thought once you’ve turned the last page, but The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns is.

On the surface, Gal, who needs a kidney transplant, and her niece, Riley, who needs her mother, are difficult characters. As I read the book, I wanted them both to do the “right” thing, and there were times when it felt like they did just the opposite. This is exactly what makes them so human.

Complex relationships, both familial and friendly, play out in expected and unexpected ways. Sometimes family members can be the most difficult to deal with because we think we know them better than we do. Honesty from friends isn’t always easy either, but it can be what helps us the most. In the end, forgiveness, love, and acceptance ring strong and true, and Dilloway is to be commended for the expert and believable way this plays out in each of her characters.

But how is this a gardening book? It’s gardening fiction, just as some books are historical fiction. Gal breeds roses and as a gardener, I enjoyed how Dilloway weaves this into the story, making it an important part of the life lessons learned.

Margaret Dilloway lives in Southern California with her husband three young children. She writes a blog, American Housewife, and is at work on her third novel. Her first novel, How to Be an American Housewife, was a finalist for the John Gardner Fiction Book Award.

Read more garden book reviews.

Read Kylee Baumle’s blog, Our Little Acre.

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