Book Review: “Wild Roses” by Deb Caletti

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “Wild Roses” by Deb Caletti! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:

“Seventeen-year-old Cassie Morgan has a secret: She’s living with a time bomb (a.k.a. her stepfather, Dino Cavalli). To the public, Dino is a world-renowned violinist and composer. To Cassie, he’s an erratic, self-centered bully.

Dino has always been difficult, but as he prepares for his comeback concert, something in him begins to shift. He seems more high-strung than ever, set off by any little thing. He stops sleeping, starts chain-smoking. And he grows increasingly paranoid, saying things that Cassie is desperate to make sense of, but can’t. So she does what she thinks she must: She tries to hide his behavior from the outside world. Before, she was angry. Now, she is afraid.

Enter Ian Waters: a brilliant young violinist, and Dino’s first-ever student. The minute Cassie lays eyes on Ian she knows she’s doomed. She tries everything to keep away from him, but is drawn to him in a way she’s never felt before. It should be easy. It should be beautiful. It is not. Cassie thought she understood that love could bring pain. But this union will have consequences she could not have imagined.

As the novel crashes through two irreparable events and speeds toward its powerful end, one thing becomes clear: In the world of insanity, nothing is sacred.”

I honestly wish I could say I loved this book. The concept presented in the summary actually sounds really interesting, and I was drawn to it because of the musical aspect as well as the implication of mental health being involved and how that might be executed. Unfortunately, all of this was badly executed from start-to-finish in the book, and here are the ways it didn’t do so well:

  1. Romance is love-at-first sight.

Usually I can get over this quickly, and it’s not the first romance book where I’ve read the love-at-first sight elements (with some books turning out really well despite this, actually), but the two main characters literally kiss a chapter or two after they meet, and the way they do so is incredibly random. There was also complete lack of chemistry from them from the beginning all the way to the end, and I never really felt the romantic tension that Cassie and Ian had with each other at all.

  1. The way mental illness was handled in the book was poorly executed.

I felt that the whole book used mental illness as an excuse for the dad’s cruel behaviour towards the girl and his own wife, as well as write some rambling passages on art and insanity that didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Is it not great that Dino’s mental health was deteriorating? Yes, it sucks for everyone. It’s made very clear in the book that everyone has a rough time handling how it affects them.

Does it excuse all his cruel behaviour towards Cassie and her mother? No.

  1. The ending was so unresolved and sudden.

We have no idea if stepfather Dino will be okay in the end. Heck, we have no real idea if anyone will be okay in the end after what transpired in the events of the book (including our protagonists Cassie and Ian). After the climatic moment of the book, the concert where Dino punches this poor innocent guy’s nose because he happens to (spoiler alert!) look like his estranged brother, we only get a chapter or two and then the book just…ends.

  1. The pacing.

There were so many long, rambling passages from Cassie’s point of view about all the little things that went on inbetween the main events that bored me to death and were completely unecessary, especially in the middle-to-end of the book. There were also a whole bunch of rant-like/rambling sections about insanity and art which, as I mentioned earlier, didn’t make a whole lot of sense. This was what mainly brought the book down. Cutting out all these parts would help make the pacing tighter and perhaps make the plot make more sense.


Overall, I’m rating this book 0 out of 5 stars.

It could have been so much better if they fixed all these points (especially points 2 and 4), but nope. The overall concept was interesting, but it was that badly executed for me to rate this at 0.

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