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The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  1,590 ratings  ·  353 reviews
Thirty-six-year-old Gal Garner lives a regimented life. Her job teaching biology and her struggle with kidney disease keep her toggling between the high school, the hospital, and her home on a strict schedule.

Only at home, in her garden, does Gal come alive. It's here that she experiments with Hulthemia roses, painstakingly cross-pollinating various specimens in the hopes
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published August 2nd 2012 by Putnam Adult (first published August 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

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Galilee Garner can be as prickly and sensitive as the roses she breeds in her southern California backyard, but when her teenaged niece arrives on her doorstep unexpectedly, temporarily homeless and motherless, Gal manages far beyond providing nutrient requirements.

Thirty-eight, unmarried, and with no children of her own, Gal is a strict disciplinarian. She teaches high school science and coaches the Science Team in addition to showing her roses in national competitions. Although schooled in th
A book I mentioned in the Book Expo's Librarian Shout 'n Share session.

While this appears to be a "how-to" manual, it's actually a well-crafted novel of a woman's life. Despite having chronic kidney disease, "Gal" has carved out a life for herself while going between dialysis, teaching AP biology to high school students, and breeding new rose hybrids, but her strict life develops a kink when her 15-year-old niece comes to live with her. This novel has fabulous well-drawn characters and a story t
Nannette McMurtry
I think why I wrestled with finishing this book is because I did not like the main character for most of it. First, she was the kind of teacher that I dread working with (in it for vacations, test scores and the love of her subject, not kids). I expected (and hoped) in the novel to see her grow into a more compassionate and understanding person who saw her students as human beings, not just kids to get good grades on a test, and that never really happens. Only briefly at the end do we get to see ...more
Galilee (known as Gal) Garner is a 38-year-old biology teacher who breeds roses as a hobby. She's a loner, with her only friend being the art teacher at her private school. And she's on dialysis a few times a week, thanks to not only having had her kidneys die when she was a child but having rejected two donated kidneys; her doctor has her on the transplant list, but there are some blood flow problems to contend with first. The parents at her school are not happy with her, because in addition to ...more
Therese Walsh
I really enjoyed the unconventional protagonist, the authentic portrayal of that character, and the choices the author made at the end of the story. Thank you, Margaret Dilloway for a beautiful bloom of a book.
Erika Robuck
The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns is about feisty, thirty-six-year-old Galilee Garner, a science teacher and rose breeder with kidney disease who is suddenly left to care for her teenage niece, Riley, when her delinquent sister takes a job overseas. For a woman who would rather rub aphids off rose leaves, inheriting a girl with social issues while dealing with dialysis every other night does not exactly excite her. Troubles at her job with her principal and also with her best friend, th ...more
Kristina McMorris
The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns is a wonderful character-driven story, featuring one of the most compelling, complex protagonists I've ever read. It's a beautifully written novel that opened my eyes to both the hardships of dialysis and the fascinating world of rose breeding.
Yvann S
"Difficult and obstinate. Thriving under a set of specific and limited conditions. That pretty much describes me. Maybe that's why I like these roses so much."

Gal has struggled all her life with a kidney failure, going to dialysis several times a week, hoping upon hope that she'll get a transplant soon. While she waits, she teaches biology very strictly at the local Catholic high school, and cultivates roses. As an amateur breeder, she tries to create a unique new strain of the Hulthemia rose. W
Julie Kibler
I read an advance review copy of The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns. As so many reviewers have already written, Galilee Garner is prickly. You find yourself wanting to give her a swift kick in the pants, but at the same time, it's so obvious that Gal has developed these thorns to cope with an unfair, unwanted situation--the very threat to her own life. So you keep reading, and eventually, you discover the roots of the thorns, and you understand. Yet, Gal makes a remarkable transformation ...more
Brenda Tolbert-radder
An interesting and endearing mix of characters truly brings life to this book. I love a book that fires up my emotions about the people in it. Gal is one of those characters. Her moments of self righteous judgmental indignation had me wanting to grab her by the shoulders and shake her while a bit later I felt such sympathy for her breaking heart that I wanted to hold and console her. Harsh, cold and distant on the outside she’s an emotional roller coaster on the inside. Scared, insecure and lone ...more
Melissa Crytzer Fry
What’s not to love in a story with a main character as prickly as the very thorned roses she tends to? Such is the case of 36-year-old biology teacher Galilee Garner – Gal for short – who says, “I love the Hulthemia roses. They are difficult and obstinate, thriving when I introduce them to an impossible variety of conditions.” Gal, a kidney dialysis patient from childhood to adulthood, shows that same fortitude throughout the story.

A self-proclaimed “half-assed optimist,” her direct, no-nonsense
Virginia Campbell
The fleeting perfection of an exquisite rose in bloom is something human beings cannot hope themselves to attain. Even so, people nurture, cultivate, feed, water and lavish loving attention upon the thorny splendor of the rose. In "The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns", author Margaret Dilloway introduces us to just such a person. Gal Garner is a teacher, a dialysis patient, and a grower of roses. Not just any roses, but specially cross-pollinated hybrid roses, which she hopes will win "Qu ...more
The Care And Handling Of Roses With Thorns
Margaret Dilloway

My " in a nutshell" summary...

Gal has kidney disease. Gal loves roses. Gal gets a surprise visit from her niece. Gal is gruff and has lots of issues.

My thoughts after reading this book...

My heart sort of melted as I read this book...there were so many characters that made me feel so much for them...Gal and Riley and Walters and Gal's mom. Gal's illness has caused her mom to just feel so guilty. Gal needs a new kidney and this isn't ev
A literary and metaphoric exploration of roses. Outwardly delicate, the intricate petals of a rose vary by breed, genetics, and their ability to adapt to various climates. One must first brave a rose's thorny armor in order to truly see its overall beauty. The same could be said about Galilee Garner.

Having suffered from medical challenges her entire life, and having spent the last eight years undergoing dialysis treatments every other day, Gal no longer has time or energy in her life to mince wo
For the most part I enjoyed this book and would recommend it. It was very interesting to learn more about the cultivation of roses and rose shows, as well as the process of dialysis. But there were times when I just wanted to smack the main character, Gal. She was so, so self rightgeous, demanding and self centered. Very bright but sooo prickly--just like the roses she cultivated. Which I guess was what the author was trying to say.... She would be such a hard person to remain close to! I did be ...more
Diane Yannick
I was so mad at my sister that "I could feel the wax melting in my ears." Yeah, I get that. Gal's sister Becky had a right to mess up her own life but did she have a right to neglect her daughter, Riley? That is one of many questions I had fun thinking about as I read this book.

This book was entertaining and not annoying. There was no attempt to tie things up perfectly at the end or explain every danged thing to the reader. There was enough space for the reader to wonder. Gal, Galilee, has a pas
As our last name is Rose, when my husband saw the title of this book, he wondered if I was reading a manual on how to handle him. In a way he wasn’t far off: while the novel deals significantly with the care of roses, it also deals with the care of relationships -- and how not to treat them so “thornily.”

The thorny one is protagonist Galilee “Gal” Garner, 36, high school biology teacher, rose breeder, every-other-night dialysis patient waiting for a suitable kidney, and newly thrust into a guard
Mandy Sherman
I loved Margaret Dilloway's last book. This one was a disappointment to me. I have spent a lot of time in hospitals and I have learned there are two types of patients the ones that are optimistic fighters and the others that are bitter cynics.

Gal is definitely bitter. She hates everyone and everything. Anything anyone says or does she finds fault with. She is so judgmental of people I wasn't sure if she was correct about her sisters drug problems. Riley never said anything really bad about her
If you liked Margaret Dilloway’s debut novel “How To Be An American Housewife”, then “The Care and Handling of Roses With Thorns” will either equate to it or come about halfway. The author’s latest tale is about 36-year old Galilee “Gal” Garner, a high school biology teacher whose failing kidneys force her to live a restricted life. Her one pleasure is her roses, flowers she has cultivated and cross-bred to create a one-of-a-kind grand prize bloom that no one has ever seen or smelled. But when h ...more
This book was fairly enjoyable. I felt like it got better in the last 100 pages or so. There were times when I felt like it back peddled at times- either the plot started to fall short or the characters started to lose some of the redeeming qualities the author was giving them. In short the writing style was a little off. But overall the book was really good- by the end all the characters had their happy ending and the book wrapped up very nicely.
Gal Garner is a high school biology teacher and a rose breeder with a scientific mind and high expectations of others. She is also on dialysis and in need of a kidney transplant. Her life feels like it’s on hold and she’s trying to keep the world at bay until her 15-year-old niece Riley unexpectedly comes to live with her. I loved how this novel wasn’t predictable, and how even though Gal could come across as an unpleasant stickler at times, I was always rooting for her! I also really liked lear ...more
Sharon Chance
As a rose grower and lover, it was the title of this book that drew me in, and after the first chapter, it was the story that kept me reading!

Not only does author Margaret Dilloway include fascinating tidbits about the growing and showing of roses, she also includes a heart-wrenching story of one woman's wait for a kidney transplant while she deals with caring for her sister's only daughter. There is humor here, but also a little sadness, but a lot of joy.

I highly recommend this book for those w
Romancing the Book
Reviewed by Robin
Book provided by the publisher for review
Review originally posted at Romancing the Book

This story taught how you can take an object in this case Roses and compare them to your life. I thought that it was interesting and I really enjoyed how Ms. Dilloway how the flowers helped Gal Garner re-connect with life. A great correlation between the two: Gal and Roses.

Gal a biology teacher at a catholic school has a kidney disease and is going for dialysis; her passion is creating new bre
Vernon Area Public Library
Galilee (Gal) Garner breed roses - as an escape from her wait for a kidney transplant and a hobby apart from her job as a high school biology teacher. She is as prickly and as particular as her flowers. She does not bend to convention or authority; she has no patience for those she feels are frivolous or those who don't try hard enough- be they other dialysis patients, her students or fellow teachers. Her life is regimented and scheduled. Teaching by day, breeding and caring for the roses in mos ...more
When reading The Care and handling of Roses with Thorns, you never really find out which was harder to tend for Galilee (Gal) Garner: the roses or Riley, her niece. There is a lot to be learned from this prickly Gal who never lets her kidney disease define who she is. Like some of her roses, this book starts slowly, makes you wonder why you keep reading, but then rewards you with the loveliness of the telling.
Donna Jo Atwood
This book started slowly and the reader is whacked with great wads of information about both kidney dialysis and rose breeding. Stay with it It's worth it.
All the major characters in this story have thorns, all of them need careful handling, and yet I really cared about them--about their problems, their friendships, their health...everything. While the ending was a little abrupt, I liked this book a lot.
Washington Centerville Public Library
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.

For t
Lee Ann
Don't recall on what list this was recommended. It was okay.

I do like the premise, shared in this quote early on: Most people think it's a shame roses have thorns. They should be glad that thorns have roses.

The main character is Gal, a biology teacher in a private school and a rose breeder. She also is on the list for a new kidney. You know from the beginning she's the prickly rose. Characters repeatedly refer to her as prickly and private. For me her character went way beyond that. I had to ch
K. East
I enjoyed this book on several levels. It was a fascinating journey into rose breeding and the rose show circuit. The prickly nature of the main character was an interesting twist on a protagonist. The role of the effective-but-less-than-popular teacher was one with which I could identify. The parallels between the essentially abandoned daughter, Rylie, and her mother who was "abandoned" because she was the healthy child added an interesting dimension to the plot, although I think this could hav ...more
This book evokes similarities to The Language of Flowers with a few key differences. The passages about Gal's hobby felt like lectures, but fit with her personality. And Gal is a richly drawn character you'll root for as she blooms like the roses she breeds. 4.5 stars.
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Margaret Dilloway is the recipient of the American Library Association's Literary Tastes Award for Best Women's Fiction for THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS. She is also the author of HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE and the upcoming SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, all from Putnam Books.

In addition to her women's fiction, Dilloway will debut a middle-grade fantasy series for Disney-Hyperion Bo
More about Margaret Dilloway...
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