July 26, 2012

{Book Review} The Care & Handling of Roses with Thorns

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns is a new novel by Margaret Dilloway, author of How to Be an American Housewife. Thorns follows Gal, a prickly chemistry teacher, amateur rose cultivator, and the possessor of one faulty kidney. Despite the colorful roses she grows and breeds, Gal sees the world as starkly black and white. People should stay in their boxes. They should follow the rules without exception. They should remember. And Gal has no patience for those who make messy decisions or follow their hearts. Gal is a modern-day Marilla Cuthbert, and I love her.

via Amazon
It was incredibly refreshing to read a book with a main character who is not beautiful. She doesn't have a cute job in a gallery or a fake girly Achilles heel like a secret shoe collection. She isn't adorably clumsy (ahem, Bella). She's isn't so fierce that she doesn't realize her own beauty (that's you, Katniss). Gal's not even nice. She's real, we all know someone like her, and her story deserves to be told too. Of course she has redeeming qualities, and as her condition worsens, her dreams of winning big at the rose shows begin to dim, and her wayward niece moves in, Gal learns to rely on others and yes, to love.

There were times when Gal made me furious. I didn't relate to her and I wanted to give up on her story. But I think that's how you know it's a good book. Dilloway is a talented writer with a risky protagonist. I can't wait to read more from her.

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