Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns

I'm not really known for my gardening abilities. Every time I have tried to cultivate a green thumb, it has not gone well.  Somewhere along the way, my green thumb turns to a shade of black that would probably best be described as "harbinger of death." In recent years, I've focused my gardening efforts on books.  I enjoy reading about others' successes in the garden rather than continuing to slaughter innocent plants with my own good intentions. Enter Margaret Dilloway's new book, The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns.

High school biology teacher Gal Garner is not known for her social grace or diplomacy. She's spent her life battling kidney disease and, at the age of 36, is in the eighth year of getting dialysis every other day. It's made her less-than-tolerant of others. Gal's real love, and obsession, is breeding roses. Gal's vocation of breeding roses requires precision, determination, and regimented routine, which fit well with her personality. However, these traits aren't as admired by her students. A misunderstanding, most likely a deliberate one, by Gal's sister leads to Gal's 15-year-old niece arriving without notice in the middle of school one day waiting for Gal to assume temporary guardianship. It turns out that regimen, precision, and determination aren't all Gal needs to help her niece, either.

I read and thoroughly Dilloway's first novel, How to Be an American Housewife, a lovely book about a woman trying to understand her mother, a Japanese war bride. In her newest book, Dilloway has written about a completely different situation, with very different characters, but has captivated my imagination no less than she did with her first book. It's a great read...and by me reading it rather than attempting to garden myself, it probably saved five or six plants. 

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