“Gathering Roses” is a character-driven story about the pursuit of love and friendship. The general theme is how the way we are treated early on in life feeds into the way we eventually come to view ourselves, and how this perception plays into the types of people that we bring into our lives and the nature of the relationships we have.
In “Gathering Roses,” introverted and studious Lori Solomon meets nonconformist Grateful Dead follower, Nick Warren, and soon finds herself on a seemingly endless carnival ride with him. Although not always apparent to Lori, it is Nick's precarious health condition that seems to underlie his outlook on life, influencing what he expects to get out of it as well as what he feels he needs to put into it. Lori’s quirky, roller coaster relationships with cynical, substance-abusing Rutherford Gimby and borderline, melodramatic Angela Allen season the stew, their faults and vices mirroring Lori’s own shortcomings.
The main characters in “Gathering Roses” share in common a neediness/dependency on something outside of themselves that they all lean toward to fill an agonizing emptiness. For Lori and Angela, low self-esteem and a poor self-image attract each to challenging and walled-off souls like Nick and Rutherford. For the men, sex, alcohol, and drugs color their past and present, keeping the barriers surrounding them erected high and impervious to real emotional attachment.
In this novel, there is heavy emphasis on the use of the Internet and e-mailing as ways for the central characters to convey their thoughts to one another. These feed into one underlying theme of the story: the somewhat dehumanizing influences that fast-paced, over privileged modern society has on today’s youth. In addition to telling a story, “Gathering Roses” takes the reader on a journey toward heightened self-awareness and resolution of internal conflict.
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