Today at Great New Books, we have the pleasure of hosting guest contributor Beth Hoffman, author of the novel, LOOKING FOR ME.
Thanks to Beth and her publisher, Pamela Dorman Books / Penguin, we have two copies of each of Beth’s books, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and Looking for Me, to give away to a couple of lucky commenters at the end of this post (details below). Thank you, Beth, for joining us at Great New Books and sharing one of your favorite reads with us today!
Author, Beth Hoffman, on one of her recent favorite books:
I’ll admit it—my first reaction to a book always begins with the cover. I’m an artist and I can’t help doing this; it’s in my genes. Color, shapes, and atmosphere speak to me. Such was the case when I first saw the hardcover of The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway. The pale, imperfect rose set against the backdrop of weatherworn wood with its peeling blue paint grabbed attention. I bought the book without knowing much about the story.
And I’m glad I did.
“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.”
Galilee (Gal) Gardner is the lead character in this multilayered story, and just like the roses she lovingly tends, she is prickly and temperamental. Though she’s physically fragile and struggles with chronic kidney disease that requires dialysis, Gal manages to teach biology at a small-town high school. But Gal is abrasive and demanding of her students, and just about everyone else, thus, other than a few friends, most people keep their distance. And that’s just fine with Gal. She doesn’t want to need anyone, nor does she want to reveal an ounce of vulnerability. Her meager bits of happiness come when she’s in her greenhouse with her beloved roses. It is here that her ongoing quest to breed one in particular takes place—the rare Hulthemia.
Gal’s true spirit shines when she cares for her roses; the tender blooms bring her a light that is otherwise dimmed by her illness.
Then along comes Riley. Thrust into Gal’s regimented life, this sullen girl with black-dyed hair and gobs of makeup is the teenaged daughter of Gal’s estranged sister. Riley’s arrival brings twists to the story that took me by surprise, and it wasn’t long before a hidden side of Gal slowly began to emerge.
Margaret Dilloway has crafted a fascinating portrait of a woman who struggles to reach beyond her devastating illness while secretly daring to dream of a better life. And she did something else, too. She took a cranky, inflexible, and often unlikeable main character and made me care about her. Really care. If I say anything more, I’ll reveal too much, so you’ll just have to read the book and see for yourself. And I hope that you will.
To enter the drawing to win a copy of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and Looking for Me, leave a comment (any comment) below, from Wednesday, September 4 until Friday, September 6 at midnight Eastern time. If you have a copy of one and you win both, it’ll be a great opportunity to share a great book with a friend! Great New Books will email each winner individually and announce them in the comments on Saturday, September 7. (Entries for the Continental US only, please.) As always, thanks for helping us to spread the word and thank you for joining us!