The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
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 teaching AP Biology, she's one of the hardest grader in the school - frequently failing more than half her students when they don't meet expectations on her tests. Gal is one of those curmudgeons, blunt to the point of rudeness, never allowing for ambiguity or softness in her transactions. One day her niece, Riley, appears. Becky, Riley's mother and Gal's older sister, has suddenly been transferred to Hong Kong and sent Riley to stay with Gal.
This is a book that asks the rather cliched questions: will Gal soften? will Riley settle in and enjoy living with Gal? will Becky and Gal reconcile? will Gal get a new kidney? etc. With only one exception, those questions are all answered in the way one would assume. If the author had been a little bolder with her choices, this would have been a more enjoyable book.
There's a lot in here about how to breed roses, which was interesting. The discussions of how to breed them, care for them and what the different types in some ways mirror Gal's year pre- and post-Riley's arrival, and the somewhat cutthroat nature of the rose shows was a little surprising.
A minor quibble: AP exams are in May, not June (though that might be one of the the things that changes between now and official publication).
ARC provided by publisher.
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