Books that Make me a Better Mom

Happy Mother’s Day!

It’s honestly nice to have some holidays in the books that are not completely kid centered.  I know a lot of people out there feel that holidays are just made up by the people who stand to profit from them, and maybe so, but sometimes I think those same people either do not have young children, have forgotten their own fun at holidays or sadly did not have any fun at all when they were kids.

Don’t get me wrong, I love planning holidays for my son.  He got a sweet snorkel set for Easter and a bubble machine.  And a ball shooter.  I got him a butterfly kit for Christmas and its just about time to order the caterpillars.  And a beautiful sleeping bag that it has not been warm enough to camp in, which he is absolutely dying to do.

But holidays are an exhausting grind that even if I can have some wine and lounge on the couch, I feel guilty I am not being more fun for my son.  Not making the memory just a bit more awesome.

So Mother’s Day, man, it’s the thing.  My husband usually comes up with gift cards and free time for me and that’s perfect.  It could be free time, it does not actually have to be gift cards.

But then books.  What books make me a good parent?  They are not parenting help books.  I kind of spend my day working on parenting with families, albeit specialized parenting that you need support with when you have a child with mental illness.  This does not mean that I don’t read creative child or or scary mommy articles:  I do.  They are refreshers.  They give me an idea of where other moms are at.  They give me good ideas.  They remind me that meeting a child’s emotional needs now does not make them dependent on you forever (which I do know, and I talk with parents about short term v long term parenting goals) but I like articles that keep this fresh for me.

Books that make me a better parent remind me of the magic in the regular world for kids.  The magic, the humor, the way they see adults until they get become one.  The intense self consciousness, the concern about fitting in and am I going to be powerful like adults are someday. My son always wants me to slow down to show me dead bugs on the windowsill, or a worm (I think its always the same worm for some reason) and not cook dinner right away to ride bikes.  I often do not want to slow down or change gears or put down what I am doing, but most of the time I do, because if I don’t pay attention now, he will stop asking for it when he needs guidance on the harder stuff that I want to be included in.  I don’t always slow down perfectly.  And he isn’t an exhausting child.

I could wax poetic for days about how much I want my son to have a present mom who did everything right.  We all want that.  I feel like half my job some weeks is scrubbing guilt off a parents soul about “messing my kid up.”

So, the books. Okay.

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Ruth Chew

I may have talked about Ruth before, but as the first author love I really remember and wanted to get through everything the library had, she earns herself another mention.   She wrote about magic that I wish was real.  Adventures in flying and shrinking and witches and spells and potions.  Heck yeah.  Going to read at least one of these to my son. And remember what the world felt like when I thought maybe this could happen, or I would imagine what I would do if I could fly or shrink and explore a tree.  I don’t remember getting emotionally taken away by a single TV show the way she took me away.

And they have recently been re issuing her books, so I think I am not alone out there in my love for her.  I think a lot of my generation loves her.

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Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome

I read this as a full grown adult for my first reading list tackle.  It is an English family living out the Second World War in the country while their father is involved in the war and they camp and spend the summer engrossed in their world of pretend.  I don’t want to spend the summer camping the entire time or playing like I was a pirate, but you got so into what they were doing it started to seem appealing.  It can be amazing to get immersed in pretend as a kid, and this reminded me of that.  Another share for my son.  This one might be a harder sell because it does come from a different culture at a different time in history, but deep down we were all the same kids at heart.

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Roald Dahl

Road Dahl reminds me that kids want to feel they influence their worlds.  I would fantasize as a kid about being more consequential in the eyes of adults than I was before I joined their ranks.  I thought I wanted to be more conspicuous, like on TV or something, and I did things at school to be noticed in positive ways.  But Dahl’s kids get to like talk to the queen and choose their parents and roll away from abusive situations in giant fruit.   And they outsmart adults. Yas.

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The Cricket in Times Square, George Selden

Being small and living in new spaces that adults did not traverse was somehow an exciting prospect.  I mean, right now I wouldn’t want to be a mouse living in a subway, but kudos to Selden for realizing that this would be a magical idea for a kid.  A cranny where one can watch the adults and hide treasures. And it takes place in NYC, the completely foreign place I got to visit as a kid, and makes use of this bustling backdrop to make the book fun.  Adult problems of how to survive living in the city were not real, but somehow there was something relatable about scrounging for food and watching the world as a small creature.

And reading for my own pleasure makes me a better mom. They say you should model reading for fun to your kids and I wonder if its the same when I am holding my kindle instead of a physical book.  I listen to books in the car with my son when he is watching a movie but I have started to consider putting on books he might like too to share the fun with him.  He does not choose to be read to on electronics or ask me to do it unless he is putting off his bed, so I have to keep working at his becoming a reader himself one day.  He isn’t the reader his mother is, but that’s okay.  The beauty of the children’s book market is that it is so competitive that a lot comes out designed to hook kids.  I will find something he really loves and ride that pony.  I am not above it.

What books remind you of the world as seen from the eyes of a kid?




Good-for-You YA

Sometimes, I think that YA books work harder at tackling difficult issues and topics because they are still meant to meet impressionable minds trying to make their way in the world.  When I see calls for YA manuscripts, usually ones that tackle tough and current issues, like mental illness and immigration, are the ones that publishers are looking for.

And it’s great.  I have often said on this blog that YA books can help build empathy in a mind that is open to empathy but might still be focused on the smaller immediate world of the person.  I don’t think that all teens are necessarily ‘me’ focused. I have met many on different parts of the spectrum, from completely self centered to so giving and concerned with others I have had to help them pull it back a little to take care of themselves.

Today I am tackling two YA books that are very very different, but I both feel are important in their own ways, written in different times and contexts.

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A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K Le Guin

There are lists floating about discussing important children’s books always mentions A Wizard of Earthsea, floating between Anne of Green Gables and Charlotte’s Web and Winne the Pooh and all the other better known ones I long since read.  And like those classics, it is about growing up and knowing your power, but it reminded me more of the Lord of the Rings, and His Dark Materials.  It is a created world, and there are significant philosophical slants to it, very Tao. It discusses the power of names and knowing true names, managing and respecting power, coming to terms with death.  I noticed in the age rating on Amazon it says 12 and up, no upper age limit, because although intended as a children’s book, it extends past the reaches of coming of age and into bigger, more lifelong concepts. Even if one did tackle it in middle school, it would need to be revisited, much like Lord of the Rings and His Dark Materials require multiple readings.  Full disclosure, I have only read the Hobbit and the Fellowship, and I know that the other two are going to have to happen.  Maybe when the snow returns in a fit of binge crafting.  Anyway.  This is heavy and it is not flashy.  It is a journey through an unknown land of a boy figuring out how to wield his power.  I feel more well read in the children’s classics, but I don’t know if this is something I would share with my son.  Depending on who he is and how I frame it to him.  Huge work, though.

So Wizard was written in 1968, and combines legends and philosophical concepts, which I think is in keeping with the times in which it is written.  Race forward to 2014. Prejudice has focused to Pakistan and Afghanistan and Muslim countries as our ‘enemies’ when the vast majority of these equally god fearing people are coming here to live for opportunity and freedoms. Like the reason we all came over.  My family was here before we were a country because we wanted religious freedom and began the Seventh Day Adventists.  So I am not judging on anyone who is looking for the same.  I think our young people need to be informed and empathic to everyone coming here looking for something better. Just because some of us may have gotten here first doesn’t mean we have rights to more of the pie.

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The Art of Secrets, James Klise

I stumbled on this one because it was a 2015 Edgar Award Winner. This is an epistolary novel, which may fit some reading challenge criteria. It is interesting, well written and pulls in a number of personalities and motives.  It’s a mystery, not so much who committed the catalyst crime but who committed the following one.  The tragedy centers on a Muslim family who are the victims of arson and then the privileged white school kids who are trying to help them. Told from all these perspectives it is a rich and multi faceted plot that does not ignore the differences between kids coming in to the privileged school in Chicago and the worlds that they come from.  Some reviews felt that some of the nonwhite voices are a little stilted and stereotypical, and maybe they are, but I still liked it the same.  It has a rating of 3.5 on Goodreads, which I feel maybe could be a little higher, considering The Winter Sea was rated higher but I think it is less important.  It has won or been in the running for a number of awards and reading lists. This is one I might encourage my son to read or read with him.

I have sooo much YA in my kindle because of my own enjoyment of the genre and my own desires to write it.  So there will be lots more YA posts to come, but I felt both of these works are important in their own ways.

May has finally arrived!

Half marathon on Mother’s Day weekend next weekend!  ahhh


5 over 500: The Winter Sea

Susanna Kearsley is one of my hoarded authors.  I had not actually read her books until this one and I have bought, like five of them.  They are historical fiction and sometimes the prices with accompanying narration just can’t be beat.

For some reason lately I keep watching and reading about Scotland and the British Isles. It has been an informal thing, unintentional.  Watching Escape to the Country and Great British Castles on Netflix (I know I am unbearably exciting) and then I pick up a book I have had forever on a woman who is writing about the Jacobites while living in Scotland and feeling the experiences are tied to her own genetic memories.

I admit I had to Wikipedia Jacobites and watching Great British Castles helped with knowing who they were and what role they played in the history of the region.  Kearsley does work at making the context understandable and come alive, but I tend to poke around for extra historical context when I am reading in general.  It just helps my brain fall together and I enjoy the story more.

So this story spans two time periods and it is the author writing a book as she goes, so it is two stories in one, which MAY count for some reading challenges that I have not been looking at.  Not at all. But it may count.

My favorite part of this book was the twist at the end.  It made me dream of the writing life, living in new places and meeting new people in order to work on and hone my craft, the freedom of a single life and being able to write all night and sleep in the day.  But I liked how she solved a dilemma at the end, which the way it was written could have been her figuring out a mystery in her own geneology.

The book, though, did not really glitter.  I didn’t get tied into the political intrigue like I can with Phillippa Gregory novels, maybe because the historical protagonist was not a central player in the political action.  She was lovely and charming but largely ancillary and more of a liability in her relationship with John Morey than an asset.  She had no power of her own.  Phillippa’s women are larger chess pieces in the game and sometimes they are on the very top, sometimes the very bottom.  Sophia was middling and sweet and inconsequential. There was romantic tension as well in the modern aspect of the story, but that was not too big either.

It turned out how I wanted, and I definitely need that level of satisfaction.  ( I am still pissed that Hermoine ended up with Ron in Harry Potter.  I would have rather seen her remain single than go for a guy who routinely puts down her intelligence and can be contemptuous of her.  There is a possibility I almost made the same mistake in my own life.)

This is historical fiction with a chick-lit feel to it, which may be why it is 4 stars on Goodreads with almost 47k ratings.

I am going to read the other books of hers that I have procured and I will be interested to see if I feel the same way about all of them.  Maybe I will connect more with another one.  I’ll have to do some research.



Read Down 2017: Middle Grade Novels Part II

I begged for Spring and now it is not enough.  It is warm, but not warm enough.

Blog posts are lagging because I am really in crunch time with half marathon training. Two long runs coming, today and next week, but nips into the distances during the week are starting the glorious taper.  I have been learning about my physical limits through all this and  I still do not know where they are. I am learning the importance of stretching and yoga to keep myself from getting hurt when I am pounding pavement and occasionally wondering how close I am to death when I push it too hard.

I survived academia and the daily grind of a supervisor and a healer, trying to keep the reactive emails to my boss to a minimum.  For his sake. But I don’t know how far I can run, or how fast, and I am finding out.  Hopefully my limit isn’t 12 miles because I have a 13 mile race on Mother’s Day weekend to conquer.

I read another round of middle grade novels this time, 8 and up, although one of them I listened to is absolutely not 8 and up.  It is all part of the read down and the exploration of the genre as an adult.  Kids books make me a better mom, but that is a topic for a later post.

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The Headless Cupid, Zilpha Keatley Snyder

This book looks like it is going to be magical and sets the tone for it:  a rambling house, a newly blended family, a grieving and precocious eleven year old protagonist.  But really, it is about the very real grief and transition of becoming a new family when old ones fall apart.  The other protagonist, Amanda, who comes to live with them, has clearly been taken care of with a permissive parenting style:  anything goes, not high on limits or supervision, and her distracted mother (as you can’t have a middle grade novel with too attentive and involvement) walks on eggshells to try and ease her transition.  This novel feels very real to me in its depiction of a grieving and transitioning family and its effect on older children who bear the brunt of it.  Yes, there is a mystery and a touch of magic and whimsy right up at the end and this is a series so I am wondering if the last bit sprinkled at the end is extended into further stories.  I would recommend this to a kid who needs to read about other kids overcoming similar challenges.


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The Night Gardener, Jonathan Auxier

This one is more straight up magic and whimsy.  Grieving kids, sure, but there is something much more lurking and sinister that is a very real danger.  Significantly more dark than The Headless Cupid.  More overt grief. Kids surviving on the edge of their wits.  And a scary tree that plays on human desperation to survive.  Everyone is hanging on by their fingernails, and the adults are too wrapped up in their own concerns to break free, so of course the snappy fourteen year old girl turned caregiver has to come in and wrench the family free from the tree’s clutches and give them back to themselves.  Interesting read, I wish I had read this when I was a member of the intended audience to have a feel for how this comes across to a child and their limited viewpoint of the world.  How a kid would process all that.  I very much want to read with my son when it is time for chapter books and I will be interested to see what he takes in of it.

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M is for Magic, Neil Gaiman

How this is classified as a children’s book, 8 and up no less, is a mystery to me.  The title would suggest a children’s book, and Neil has written for children, but this collection of his shorter works from different times in his career has too many adult themes that kids would not really understand.  There is one that talks about sex and infidelity, but even the others, like the story of Galahad trying to get the Holy Grail off a woman who got it in a junk shop by offering other legendary items like the Sorcerer’s Stone as a trade would not make sense to a child in the larger context.  His last story that later became The Graveyard Book, which I own but have not read, and that felt more middle grade-y to me than the others.  And I think I found it to be the most interesting and may have moved The Graveyard Book up on the queue.  That one I bought specifically to share with my son someday.  He’s not a huge reader at this point but he and I might find some mutual book loves if I work at it.  Neil is Neil, a true artist, full of whimsy, legends and magic, and I will probably always love him, but this is not for kids.

I like middle grade novels too while shuffling through something bigger. Something bigger and worth it, but that my brain sometimes can’t hang onto.  And I am seeing what I can share with my guy when he is just a little older from now.  I might be getting just a smidge tired of picture books.




Maternity Leave Survival Reads

Dear Spring:  Thanks for springing.  Just in time to rescue me from complete despair that you were never coming.

So, it’s Easter Sunday and I don’t have a very Easter-y blog post for today, if you were looking for books about some aspect of the holiday.  Like chocolate bunnies.

If my blogging as of late has felt uninspired, please know I am in the final throes of training for a half marathon.  I wanted to be a more competitive triathlete so I just decided to do a half marathon training program, and then my training partner said that I will never know if the program works unless I actually run one, so then I signed up for a race twice the length of what I am sure I am capable of.  My goal is not to walk.  But the training has taken up my writing time.  I tried to write last week’s post after a seven mile clip through the park and my brain was refusing to comply.    So I am posting on a rest day, an amazing sunny day that I spent outside with my son.  On a topic I have long been considering.

Pregnancy and maternity leave were an interesting time for my reading. During pregnancy, my brain did not hang on to some of the books very well, except I did finish Mansfield Park and it did make me think enough to stay in my mind.  So did A Prayer for Owen Meany and The Grapes of Wrath.  Mystery novels slipped away from me, though, and the ones I read, especially on those summer mornings where the best I could do was walk on the treadmill, deserve a re-read.   Cloud Atlas being one of them. But it was not the pregnancy books that I wanted to post on.

It is the books that got me through the subsequent maternity leave that will be featured today.  The time when I had my very own tiny baby bunny.

Pregnancy requires a degree of survival, although mine was not high risk or especially horrid in any of those ways.  I was just tired, bleary minded, and wanting to fast forward to the baby part because I did not know any better. But it’s just a warm-up for the big leagues.

When I became a mother, I also I became someone who could read on my phone, as it was back lit and could fit in one hand, the other cradling possibly the hungriest infant that ever lived.  I did not only read in those long nights with nothing but the light of the nightlight and the one on my phone,  but it was a better activity than googling my exes and seeing all the places that my best friend checked into in the first year he lived in NYC (something I am really jealous of and something I am also really not).

So what makes a good maternity read?  Engaging and not too complicated.  My sleep deprived, pregnancy compromised brain needed scraps to hang on to but not too many scraps because the scraps would get too tangled up.  I also noticed that the books I am mentioning here are mostly series books, which can minimize the between book angst. Which is completely real, and should not happen at the same time as all the other angsts of new motherhood.

Some of the best books from that time:

Gone Girl, Jillian Flynn

Short chapters and a totally engrossing plot. I already was up most the night and I wanted to be up the rest of it because I just had to know.  And I could be like, just one more part and I’ll put it down… an hour later… ha. Very vivid memory of a time that did not make a whole lot of specific memories.

The Jo Mackenzie books, Gil McNeil  (starting with The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club)

This one still piqued my curiosity despite lacking the tension of Gillian Flynn’s suspense novel.  They are more a slice of life books than they are about discrete plots where people undergo major changes, but I like a woman following her creative dreams of having a knitting shop after her no good husband dies.

Nero Wolfe novels, Rex Stout

I have long read Nero in the spaces of my life where I needed a book to pull me away but not completely entangle me emotionally.  He was also a break from grad school read.  I do believe I have done 37 of this series, but I almost feel that this should have its own post.

The Plantagenet and Tudor novels of Philippa Gregory

These were more at the tail end of maternity leave, but they got me through January as well:  a double accolade.  I love Philippa’s true historical novels and the fascinating characters and historical events that she brings to life in her writing.  I find myself googling these people afterward.  As of now I have Three Sisters Three Queens on deck and maybe the Taming of the Queen, which I know is about the last wife whose inner light was thankfully not victim to the tyrant king Henry VIII.

What gets me through in my time of need!  If I had another baby, I would finish the Royal Spyness series and maybe some Louise Penny.

Happy Easter!


Thoughts/shares/comments always appreciated!!




Read Down 2017: Middle Grade Novels

I have an interest in writing middle grade novels.  A good book can be a childhood survival tool, and there is a decent market for it, and I work with kids, so this should be easy, right?

I might work with kids on the daily but I have been an adult in control of my own destiny for far too long.  And my job is helping kids solve problems in the context of their caregivers, when there are caregivers capable of this.

In middle grade novels, kids themselves are the catalyst, the one who changes and overcomes the problem, usually without an adult or with very little help from one.   This is the piece that I struggle with when thinking about a plot for this age group.  Kids have very little power!

The child protagonists in the three middle grade novels that I read for this post all are the agents of change.  One has evil adults and two have pretty normal adults who are kept in the loop as much as they can be without getting involved.  Because, you know, parents are ruiners.  And they are all decently dark, which tends to be what I read.  Grief is a serious motivation for more than one main character.

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Liesl & Po, Lauren Oliver

I have also reviewed Rooms on here, another Lauren Oliver, which was not intentional.   Liesl and Po is supernatural, marginalized children combating evil adults.  There is a mixup of a common object and each of the children need the object in order to achieve their own means.  Oh, and Liesl is helped out by a ghost, Po.  Just to add something.  They escape from their adults because they have to, and ultimately defeat them. Adults can make this world a scary place and make a pretty good story out of it if they choose to.


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The Creek, Jennifer Holm

When I finished this book I went back to be sure it was a middle grade novel, and sure enough, it is.  It pushes the boundaries of the genre, however, with some of its events and themes. People die in this one. It involves a loss of childhood innocence in a lot of ways.  A girl turning 13 who spends the summer running around the neighborhood with her male friends is upturned by a boy returning to live in the neighborhood after a stint in reformatory school for killing people’s pets.  And then, pets go missing and other macabre events, and the neighborhood is blaming the returned boy, but the protagonist knows it is not him but is afraid to tell the adults how she knows he is not responsible for the recent events.  She solves the mystery on her own, to her credit, and can keep up with the boys.

I had one major issue with this story, though.  There is a part where she is cornered by the reformatory school boy, Caleb, and he nearly rapes her, and doesn’t only because he is interrupted.  Okay, that happens to kids.  The part that really bothered me about it is she starts to like it and crave that kind of attention/relationship with a boy.  She has an age appropriate first kiss earlier on, which is sweet, but then she gets a taste for bad boys from this one who imposes himself on her and is like six years older.  She starts to relate to her friend who is a year older and desperately trying to be an adult, smoking and dressing sexy.  Because a 14 year old dating an 18 year old boy like that and showing off her body is completely well adjusted and happy, and it makes total sense that an innocent girl who gets a taste of that at 13 would want more of it.  No.  There is a reason that statutory rape is a thing. Because both of the girls are victims, and at least in the protagonist, I feel that it is made sexy.  Gross.  I don’t know, this one pushes a lot of middle grade boundaries.

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The Day the Angels Fell, Shawn Smucker

This is a biblical story and I did not realize it until I got a decent way in.  A grieving child falls victim to an angel’s plot to resurrect the tree of life, and a huge battle of good vs evil ensues. It is made more relatable than that, but that’s the gist.  The battle between good and evil in the child reminded me of that battle in the other book Rooms  by James Rubart where a man is deciding if he is going to follow Jesus Christ or not and the devil rolls onto the scene to tempt him.  The self doubt and the impulse to go for the short term payoff is similar, the insidious nature, the choice that looks good until one really thinks through the consequences.  The devil is such because he can present a tough choice without you really knowing the extent of the negative consequences.  I imagine he really does show up as everything you have ever wished for.

Reading down my middle grade novels has been helping me shape my thinking further about writing for children.  And reminds me of a child’s perspective to keep it fresh at work.


Read Down 2017: how does your garden grow?

I think few people can deny that nature is chock full of magic.  The first magic honored the natural world and all the things that it does completely without us, in fact, in spite of us.

This post features two blogs where growing things on purpose is a major component of the book. Books about intentionally  growing things as well as redemption, redemption that is being looked for, and redemption that happens entirely by accident.

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The Orchardist, Amanda Coplin

I picked up The Orchardist a few years ago when it first came out, but it is a part of my Read Down 2017, as I still had not gotten to it.  It’s my kind of historical fiction, the kind that uses a story to steep you into the times, in this case, the American West 1850-1900.  A self elected foster father tries to save two abused pregnant teenage girls escaping a life of sexual slavery because his own beloved sister, the only person he had, disappeared mysteriously decades before.  The kind of vanishing without a trace that you could do in the loose structure of the American West at that time.  But when the girls stumble into his life, he sees a chance to save them, and keeps trying to save them at his own detriment until he dies. Raising the baby that was born and left on his orchard is not enough to assuage his prolonged grief over the loss of his sister.  We don’t even know if she was kidnapped or left of her own accord, but the fact that all that was left of her was a bonnet drives his actions in years to come. The fact that he grows food to sell as a means of sustenance is secondary to the other pieces of the plot.

This is a character driven novel to be read for its beauty and understanding of a different time and place.  I think when it came out, some people commented that it was slow and anti climactic, but I thought it was beautiful and engrossing.

There is also a re read on some of the Reading Challenges that I have been unsuccessfully avoiding.  Yeah, I have been trolling, especially as it relates to my own book collection.  I can’t even hold to my resolution for three months, but whatever, I actually have been drinking more water.  I bought bottled waters that just feel easier at home and reminders when I am out. But, somehow drinking more water has been easier for me to do than not looking at MMD, BookRiot and Popsugar.  But I have not committed myself to a number of books or pages, so that’s a start.  Any. Whoodle.

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The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

I loved The Secret Garden as a kid, and re reading it as an adult, I am realizing that my love of Gothic novels goes back to before I knew what a Gothic novel even was.  A little girl is saved from who she was by coming to the Moors under the care of an absent uncle and getting lots of outdoors and some good old hands off/borderline neglectful British parenting.  She comes from India, where she is yellow skinned, sour faced and completely unappealing and spoiled to regain health and vigor in the finding and cultivating of a forbidden garden in a big old house full of sadness and mystery.

And she is also saved by the poster child for old school British parenting, the ultimate best case example of a child who is allowed to roam free all day every day, Dickon.  If Dickon was brown he would have been Burnett’s version of the magical n-.  He is poor and uneducated and yet he brings life, love and vigor wherever he goes.  He will probably grow up to have the soul dragged out of him by factory work or some other such drudgery that effectively killed the souls of the poor at that time of history, but for now, he is a veritable beacon of heart and goodness.  Also of gender roles, because the girls in poor families with tons of kids are expected to help with the cooking and childcare and household duties, while the boys can be out on the moors talking to birds and raising orphaned animals or doing what they please for 12-16 hours a day.  Dickon’s older sister was a servant and sending her wages back home and coming home on her one day off a month to help her mother with the baking. Can I be any more obvious that I don’t like it when people hold old school hands off parenting as the gold standard to which we should all aspire?  These kids raise themselves back to having the potential of being productive members of society all on their own.  No help from busy adults who don’t set any limits.

These are both good reads, one is better for the atmosphere, the characters and the themes, and the other is a nice feel good story of redemption. Both worth a go.


Comments/shares/likes always appreciated!