The Blue Roses

By Kirkus Reviews

When Rosalie is born, her grandfather plants a rosebush in the garden. As she grows, Papa, as she calls him, teaches her to garden, even putting stinky dead fish in the ground to nourish the seeds. The neighbors say Papa has a green thumb, but Rosalie is relieved to see that their thumbs stay brown! But she notices as Papa’s cough gets more frequent, his braid grayer, and his face more wrinkled. He has her dig the dead plants under so that they will, like the fish, enrich the ground: in a garden, he says, “Nothing ever really leaves.” When her grandfather dies, Rosalie dreams of him in a heavenly garden, where the roses are — not pink, yellow, and red like hers — but blue, like the ones she had begged for as a child. When she and her mother go to tend Papa’s grave a year later, she finds the roses planted there are blue, just as in her dream. Newcomer Boyden’s prose is filled with color and imagery and impasto acrylics give a wonderful hieratic quality to the pictures. The small house, the well-loved garden, the profusion of roses, and Native American Rosalie and her family are formed of strong geometric shapes and richly colored patterns. A gentle story of family ties, loss and dreams.