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The title is apt to describe Galilee Garner, the prickly protagonist of Dilloway's second novel (after How to Be an American Housewife). "Gal" has been on dialysis since she was diagnosed with kidney disease as a child and, by her own choosing, has distanced herself from others. She lives a solitary life in central California, her free time spent breeding competition roses and teaching high school biology at a private Catholic school. Her sole friend, Dara, whose frilly '50s style makes her look like a character from the musical Grease, teaches art at the same school, but Gal's self-centeredness creates a rift in their relationship. Gal's autonomy is challenged when her teenage niece Riley arrives unannounced when Riley's flighty mom, Gal's sister, goes to Hong Kong on business. Having Riley around slowly softens Gal, drawing her focus away from herself. There's no mystery that Dilloway's metaphor, the care needed to keep a rose thriving, is meant to evoke the needs of a child, a friendship, or someone suffering a chronic illness. Dilloway's tale is slow in reaching the sweet part of Gal's hardened heart, and this lack of empathy will push some readers away. Agent: Elaine Markson, Markson Thoma. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Galilee Garner is a no-nonsense 36-year-old biology teacher and rose enthusiast who breeds the flowers for competitions. Gal follows a strict schedule and her days do not allow for interruptions. While she enjoys her job at a private high school and loves her roses, Gal must also pay regular visits to the hospital for dialysis; her kidney disease dictates how she will live. Always hopeful that she will eventually receive a kidney transplant, thorny, difficult Gal functions well within this regimented structure until her estranged 15-year-old niece enters her life. Needy Riley, who is staying with her aunt for an extended period, has lived an unstructured life. So Gal's ordered existence is turned topsy-turvy as she is forced to become a substitute parent. VERDICT Believable situations with well-drawn characters make this novel as lovely as the roses Gal tends. Dilloway's second novel (after her acclaimed and decidedly different debut, How To Be an American Housewife) is a captivating study of how love and understanding nurture our lives. Engaging, enlightening, thoughtful, this is a winner.-Andrea Tarr, Corona P.L., CA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
A private-school biology teacher, Gal Garner is known for her prickly personality. Her few friends have learned to cope with her candid outbursts, while school officials find her stubborn intractability hard to condone. To her students, she is one of the toughest taskmasters on the faculty. Yet at home in her rose garden, Gal blossoms into a sensitive, caring romantic as she tries to breed a fragrant species unlike anything on the market. Now in the end stages of kidney failure, Gal has to stick to a rigid dialysis schedule that leaves her little time for anything beyond her small world of school and greenhouse. So the sudden arrival of her teenage niece, Riley, whom she hasn't seen in years, not only throws her carefully constructed world into chaos; it forces both her and Riley to confront issues of estrangement and independence that have nearly torn their family apart. A richly textured diversion from standard treatments of family angst, Dilloway's (How to Be an American Housewife, 2010) new novel expresses a graceful understanding of the virtues of mercy.--Haggas, Carol Copyright 2010 Booklist