Irene Hunt - The Lottery Rose: A Novel

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A book about a freakin' rose??!!

Jan 26, 2003 (Updated Jan 26, 2003)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:The well-described setting and characters, the beautiful writing style, and emotions

Cons:The plot didn't really intrigue me at first

The Bottom Line: Read The Lottery Rose if you like books with emotions, strong characters, great setting, and a smooth writing style.


I really had no plans on reading The Lottery Rose by the Newbery Award-Winning author, Irene Hunt. But when it’s on your book report list (which is fairly limited), what can you do except say, “Hell, why not? I’ll probably end up reading it sometime or another”? When I first saw the cover of the book (and heard the title), I told myself that there was no way I was going to read this book. But I did it anyway, and now I’m glad I read this story for a few reasons—emotion, love, setting, characters, and writing style.

♠ A Few Book Details ♠

The Lottery Rose is written by Irene Hunt, is 181 pages long, and was first published in 1976. The Lottery Rose costs $4.99, could be read by people ages 11 and up (I’ll explain why later), and its ISBN number is 0-4250-18279-7.

♠ Characters ♠

Georgie Burgess is the focal character in The Lottery Rose. Georgie is a seven year-old male who lives in a run-down townhome in Tampa, Florida, with his abusive mother and her highly abusive boyfriend, Steve. Georgie is constantly tormented by his mother and Steve, and to make matters worse he really doesn’t have any friends at school (including teachers). The only thing Georgie loves and has a true passion for is books—books with pictures of flowers in them, especially roses. Georgie absolutely loves roses, and hopes to have his own garden when he grows up.

Molly Harper is a middle-aged woman who has had some painful experiences in her past. Both her husband and son died in a car crash a while ago. Mrs. Harper lives in Florida, across the street from an all boy’s school. Molly lives with her father, her other son Robin (who is mentally retarded), Rosita (the maid), and Amanda (Robin’s caretaker).

Robin, Mr. Collier, Mrs. Harper, and Georgie all seem to have the most important roles in the story.

All characters in The Lottery Rose are very well described. It took me a little while to figure out who was who in the beginning, but as time progresses, you discover each characters own personality.

♠ Setting ♠

The Lottery Rose begins in urban Tampa, Florida, Georgie’s home. Georgie lives in a run down apartment in a mediocre neighborhood. However, most of the story takes place in a small boys school miles outside of the city (the name of the town is not mentioned). The areas surrounding the school are well described—you can really get a feel for where everything is. You’ll learn where the lake is, Mrs. Harper’s house and garden are, the school for boys, etc. What I’m trying to get at is that I loved the setting of The Lottery Rose, and I’m sure you probably will, as well.

♠ Plot ♠

Georgie Burgess is a boy with a lot going on in his life. Everything seems to be going wrong – no friends or loving family. The only thing he does like, however, is a particular book he rents out of the school library. The book is full of roses and flowers, and Georgie adores flowers. One day, while shopping at the local supermarket, Georgie is given a lottery ticket by the clerk and is told to come back the following Saturday to see if he wins. Georgie must have good luck with him, for he was one of the few winners and is awarded a rose. While some people might not have liked that gift, Georgie is absolutely amazed (the rose is almost like Georgie's best friend). So what’s Georgie try to do with the rose? He tries to find a place to plant is rose, but no luck. That night, when Georgie goes back to his apartment, Steve is there and things don’t go to well that night. Georgie is tortured – welts on the back, a broken arm, and other torturous things happen. Georgie is temporarily placed in a foster home, but is then moved to a school for boys in another town.

When Georgie first arrives to the school, everything seems to be fine. The teachers are nice and he even makes a new friend, Timothy. But Georgie is preoccupied and is more worried about his flower. One cold night, he escapes his bedroom and plants his rose in the garden across the street which belongs to Mrs. Harper (Molly). Mrs. Harper has been angry and depressed ever since her husband and son died a while ago. When Molly finds out about the rose, she is infuriated, rips out the rose, and throws it on the school playground. Georgie is absolutely appalled and decides to hold a grudge against Mrs. Harper. Will Georgie ever find a place for his rose? Will he have any memorable experiences at this school? Will Georgie make any good friends? Will Georgie’s feelings about Mrs. Harper ever change?

Before I move on, I must mention that Mr. Collier and Robin play a big part in the story. Georgie and Robin are first acquainted when Mr. Collier teaches Georgie how to read. Robin likes books too (or at least he likes to look at the pics, anyway). From this point on, Georgie and Robin do everything together, feed the ducks at the lake, build various items, read books together, and do several other things. Georgie and Robin create a friendship that will last forever… or will it?

♠ Writing Style and Other Stuff ♠

The writing style in The Lottery Rose can be described in one word—beautiful. Here’s a short excerpt to get you more in tune with what the writing style is really like:

A few minutes later he heard the sound of Old Eddie’s truck coming down the road which led from the north end of the garden. Georgie watched its approach and the uncomfortable feeling he had known since Old Eddie’s angry words in the garden returned to make him feel worried and uncertain. He felt the loss of a friendship that had comforted him for many months.

Maybe my thoughts on writing styles are different than yours, but I think that excerpt is very well-written and smooth. It seems to me that Irene Hunt really has a way with words. Most of the book is written in the same style as the excerpt above. The book is extremely easy to read… The hardest thing to comprehend is the childish talk spoken by Georgie, and trust me, even that is really easy to understand. So overall, the writing style is smooth, beautiful, and easy to read.

The book has a font size which is around an 8 or 9 (about your average book), is double-spaced, and has around a ¾ to 1 inch margins on each page. All three of these factors create The Lottery Rose to go by fairly quickly.

The Lottery Rose is divided into 14 chapters, each chapter containing an average of 12 pages.

Drugs? None. Sex? Absolutely not. Violence? Yes. At the beginning of the book, Georgie gets whipped, beaten, starved, and other torturous things, all caused by his own mother and her įsshole of a boyfriend, Steve. And bad language? None that I recall.

What did I like about the book? Let’s start with the emotions. The Lottery Rose practically has every emotion imaginable. At the beginning of the story there’s hate, then we see hope, next comes comfort, and the book ends with love and sadness. I thought all these emotions created one big emotional rollercoaster, and overall created a fabulous book. I liked how each character had their own special personality. The setting of the story is absolutely beautiful and thoroughly described, and the writing style is simple and easy to read, yet very beautiful as well. I liked how the book was pretty short and didn’t really drag on too much. And finally, the ending is very sufficient, is not too predictable, but is extremely sad.

What didn’t I like about this story? Ok, first of all, the plot of The Lottery Rose didn’t really intrigue me—at first, anyway. A book about a freakin’ rose? Come on… But the good thing is that the book doesn’t really focus only on the rose (friendship and being accepted are the other two main focuses on the story). Believe it or not, there was a time that I almost thought about quitting the book—the middle. The middle of the story (in some places, but not all) seemed to be a tad dry for my taste and also got a little repetitive. Each day, Georgie goes to school, plays with Robin, and then has a lecture about how he should accept Mrs. Harper. Woohoo! But the good thing is that the ending makes up for the dry and repetitive sections. Other than this, there’s really nothing bad about The Lottery Rose.

The cover of The Lottery Rose shows a picture of little Georgie kneeling on the ground (next to his red rose) in a garden (I believe it’s Mrs. Harper’s garden). Above Georgie is the title and author, and above that is a quote from Booklist that reads, “A deeply affecting, affirmative story.” And finally, to the left of the quote is a small tan ribbon shaped…umm… shape, that says, “Newbery Award-Winning Author.”

What’s the theme of The Lottery Rose? Friendship and love can be the best thing someone can ever have. In the beginning of the story, you will discover a poor young boy with no loving parents or friends, and by the end of the book you will find a young boy who is loved by many and makes a friend(s) that he will forever cherish.


♠ About the Author ♠

Irene Hunt was born in Pontiac, Illinois, in 1907 to Sarah and Franklin Hunt. As a young child he family moved to Newton, Illinois. Her father died in 1914. Irene and her mother went to live on her grandparent's farm. Irene was very close to her grandfather, who often told her stories of his childhood during the Civil War. Ms. Hunt worked as a French and English teacher in Oak Park IL for 17 years. She went to the University of Illinois at Urbana and University of Minnesota at Minneapolis to get both her bachelor's and masters degrees. She taught from 1950, until her retirement in 1969 in the Cicero School system. It was during this time that she realized the need for good historical fiction for children. She is the author of Across Five Aprils, Up a Road Slowly, No Promises in the Wind, and of course, The Lottery Rose. Her first novel, Across Five Aprils, wasn't published until she was 57 years-old. Ms. Hunt currently lives in Florida.

Want some more info on Irene Hunt. If so, check out the following sites:
falcon.jmu.edu/~ramseyil/hunt.htm
www.edupaperback.org/authorbios/Hunt_Irene.html

♠ Final Thoughts ♠

Overall, I thought The Lottery Rose was a great read and overall deserves 5 stars. The plot may not be intriguing at first, but once you get into the book, you’ll discover something more than just a book about a silly rose. The characters and setting are well described, and the writing style is simply beautiful.

I’d recommend this book to kids ages 11 and up, mainly because of the violence and abuse in the beginning of the story. It’s not too graphic, but you can just imagine all the horrible things happening to Georgie. Other than violence, there is no sex, drugs, or foul language. So overall, I’d recommend The Lottery Rose to kids ages 11 and up, to both boys and girls…

Thanks for reading…



























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