The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns
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The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  1,164 ratings  ·  303 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...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published August 2nd 2012 by Putnam Adult
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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...more
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...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.
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
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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
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...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.
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.
Christine Frank
Easily putdownable. The author seems to pile on one unappealing feature after another until, after one or two attempts, I gave up. Gardening holds no appeal for me and, well, just no.
Gal Gardner was as "prickly" and unlikeable as I expected her to be based on what I had read about this book. She is a 38-year-old high school biology teacher who has fought serious health problems her whole life. Her life is currently constrained by having to spend every other night in a clinic undergoing dialysis, endlessly waiting for the chance at a kidney transplant. Her joy in life is her rose breeding, but in both that aspect of her life and in her teaching career she keeps people at a di...more
This is a wonderful story of scientific, logical Gal. She takes kidney dialysis while she waits for a new kidney and teaches at a Catholic high school. Gal's passion is breeding roses. She is trying to make a "strongly" scented one. Her life is very fastidious and closed-off. Imagine her surprise when her 15 year-old niece Riley shows up to live with her. As the two "bloom" together, they find out that letting people into your life may bring some hurt, but opens you to new friends, experiences a...more
Norain MT
I don't usually trust blurb, but once in a while I do allow myself to be intrigued by it. Like this book. I was (and still am) reading another book by this author How to Be an American Housewife, and God, that book was horrible. I have not even finished it as I write this review. Against any logic should I be picking up her other works, but that part "Filled with gorgeous details of the art of rose breeding" in the synopsis captured me. I have a little something for roses. For once I let that li...more
Viviane Crystal
Galilee Gartner, a private high school biology teacher, raises roses as a hobby, but she’s not the kind who mails away for different styles or breeds of these gorgeous flowers. She breeds them, experiments with different breeds that are both already popular, specialized and loved as well as trying to breed new types. Her dream is to create a beautiful rose that also has a magnificent fragrance. While she calls herself an amateur and may be compared to other famous rose breeders, she knows a mill...more
The story of Gal and her roses. Gal, a high school teacher, spends every other night in the hospital getting kidney dialyis as she waits for an available kidney suitable for transplanting into her worn body. Along comes her rebellious teen aged neice that she hasn't seen for years. I usually don't like books in which I don't like the main character but I've made an exception in this case. Gal is cold, not very likeable, unfriendly, not caring that others have feelings, she is hard and prickley,...more
Pamela Barrett
I loved this book. Wonderful well told story, with people I could relate to, and it helped that I have lived in most of the cities in the book.

Galilee (Gal) Garner is a high school science teacher with an interesting hobby: breeding roses; and she also has a big health problem—she needs a kidney transplant. Her life is divided between teaching in the day and every few nights sitting through dialysis. Because of her life long illness she’s never married or had children. She lives alone and enjoy...more
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Margaret Dilloway is the author of HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE and the upcoming THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS (August 2012).

Dilloway lives in Southern California with her husband and their three young children. Her blog, “American Housewife,” can be found on her website,
More about Margaret Dilloway...
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