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The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  2,277 ratings  ·  441 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, 354 pages
Published August 2nd 2012 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published August 1st 2012)
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Jul 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Melissa Crytzer Fry
Oct 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wip-comps
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
Nannette McMurtry
Jun 21, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Jul 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary
This is one of those books where every single star rating applied. Sometimes it was 1 star, and sometimes it was 5 well as everything in between. I'm going with 3 because I did like this. I think the one thing that made that possible, was the honesty of the MC, Galilee (Gal for short). She wasn't warm and fuzzy, but her honesty made her easy to relate to.

When this book started, it literally kicked off with the care and handling of growing roses and propagating them. I thought, "I
Yvann S
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
"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.
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: family
I didn't love this as much as How to be an American Housewife, but it is still good. I really grew to like the character Gal, she is gritty and sarcastic and despite her kidney disease, has a predictable routine life until her niece shows up at her door! I did like all the details about roses thrown in the story, I think I learned a few tips to try on my roses.
Mary Robinson
Jun 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
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 ...more
Aug 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
"Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns, I am thankful that thorns have roses" I love this quote, and it is in the beginning of the book. This is a story of a curmudgeon who most people just see her surliness, yet her friends see her individual beauty. She's a thorn but is a rose. I love this book because she is a rose breeder, a world I knew nothing about nor had given much thought about. Also, she has kidney disease, another world I hadn't given much thought about. It made ...more
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable book about a science teacher, Gal, who struggles with kidney disease while pursuing her passion of cultivating Hulthemia roses. One afternoon her teenage niece, Riley, shows up at her home, unannounced, expecting to be able to live with her while her mother, Gal's estranged sister, works overseas. Gal and Riley have to learn to navigate this new living arrangement and get to know each other and themselves in new ways.
Gal is not exactly a likable character, very prickly and
Aug 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Erika Robuck
Aug 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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, ...more
Jun 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013-reads
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
Kristina McMorris
Apr 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Lori Connor
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Loved the characters, loved the information about roses and rose breeding and I especially loved the relationships in this story. So glad I read this!
Jaymi Couch
Oct 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Oh how I enjoyed this book! Beautiful story of teacher Gal and her amazing roses. She is a thorny character and rigid and has ultra high expectations of herself and those around her. Her niece Riley is in need of tending to and their relationship is complicated and prickly. Loved how everyone came to realize their own special potential.
Julie D.
Jul 30, 2017 rated it did not like it
UGH-I LOVED Margaret Dilloway's "How to be an American Housewife" and "Sisters of Heart and Snow", but this one dragged on and on with seemingly no point whatsoever, I couldn't even finish it. BORING.
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
You'll ask yourself how can rose breeding, kidney disease, and teaching, all manifested in Gal Garner, combine to make such a wonderful story. Gal's niece Riley comes to live with her and you watch her blossoming into a young woman. I loved this family story of struggles and redemption.
Jul 05, 2012 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Virginia Campbell
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: womens-fiction
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 ...more
Sep 11, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Mar 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Well written story that explores the challenges of overcoming chronic physical illness while dealing with life's everyday and extraordinary challenges. The main character is hard to like but was easy to understand. Watching her growth throughout out the novel is paralleled with her beloved roses. The story manages to stay true without falling into clichés.

One topic this novel covers, which is a particular bone of contention for me, is parents who abandon their children. "Gal" is unexpectedly
Aug 17, 2012 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Julie Kibler
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Diane Yannick
Aug 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Brenda Tolbert-Radder
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Feb 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I almost gave it a 5!! This book starts off a bit slow, but then I found it hard to put down. Gal Garner is a tough science teacher in a private high school. She is also an amateur rose breeder in her spare time and wants to win "Queen of Show" in a major competition. She also needs a kidney! She is on a wait list for one, and this will be her third one. She must spend every other night in the hospital undergoing dialysis. So between school, dialysis, and her green ...more
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Margaret started writing stories in kindergarten. Ever since then, she's used writing to understand the world and entertain people.

She loves improv, attempting complicated baking recipes, hiking, and dollhouse miniatures.

-MOMOTARO: XANDER AND THE LOST ISLAND OF MONSTERS: Winner of the American Library Association's Asian/Pacific American Librarian