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The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway August/September pick for the SheKnows Book Club!

Reviewed by Vera Pereskokova (Luxury Reading)

Gal Garner, a thirtysomething high school science teacher, has all her days and actions carefully planned out. Born with a kidney defect, Gal has already had two kidney transplants; the most recent failure left her at the mercy of dialysis for the past eight years. And although the every other day dialysis schedule usually limits Gal to school, home and hospital, she always manages to challenge her students in her AP biology class, and to challenge herself with breeding roses at home.

In her backyard greenhouse, Gal painstakingly experiments with her Hulthemia roses in the hopes of creating a new flower, winning the Queen of Show and bringing her rose to the market. When Gal leaves town – which does not happen very often – it is to attend rose shows large and small and show off her new creations.

Gal’s quiet and regimented life is interrupted when her teenaged niece, Riley, shows up on her doorstep unannounced. Suddenly, Gal’s life is no longer just her own and Riley’s presence changes it in ways she has never expected.

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns is not a book that is loud or sensationalized. Instead, it is a story of everyday people that is quiet and unassuming, but that touches your heart and stays with you long after the last page is turned.

I was not particularly fond of Margaret Dilloway’s first novel, How to Be an American Housewife, and was hesitant to read The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns. However, I am so glad I took a chance on this book as it struck a chord with me that American Housewife never did. Having finished it weeks ago, I am still thinking about the characters and bringing the book up to everyone. It is an amazing novel that would be a hit with book clubs looking to have a good discussion.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Also by Margaret Dilloway: How to Be an American Housewife

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Putnam Adult. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.