Do you remember the first time you read The Secret Garden? I was about nine, I believe, and I can still recall the spine-tingling spookiness of Misselthwaite Manor, the delight in meeting Martha and Dickon and the wonderfully irascible Ben Weatherstaff, the wonder at Mary's discovery of the garden and passion for growing beautiful things. Even though Mary was quite horrid by all accounts, I was rooting for her from the start--perhaps because when I was nine, I was rather horrid by all accounts, too.
I knew then that I loved the book. Re-reading it as an adult, I realized just how much it had impacted me. Is it really Mrs. Sowerby's advice that my children hear whenever I tell them to go outside if they're sick or grumpy? Did Mary and Colin's encounter with "The Magic" influence the way I'm always on the lookout for the wonder in God's creation? Did Mary's transformation from sour and unlikable to strong and comforting impact my ability to think I could change, too?
I'll never really know all these answers. Obviously I was formed by many things in life, and even if I was just counting books you'd definitely have to throw several L. M. Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott titles onto the pile. I do know, however, that The Secret Garden changes me for the better every time I read it, and brings me closer to God as well.
This last re-read of Burnett's classic was made even more meaningful by the addition of guided meditations by Rachel Dodge, in her lovely The Secret Garden Devotional. She breaks the book down chapter by chapter and explores the various themes raised by the author, connecting them with our own lives and relationship with God. She points out so many details I would have missed otherwise, using quotations from the story and selections from scripture to guide your experience of The Secret Garden and turn it from mere pleasure reading to a further encounter with the Divine.
And I can't forget to add that the illustrations by Anastasia Nesterova are absolutely adorable. I want an edition of The Secret Garden itself illustrated by her!
This would make a lovely gift for an older middle grade reader, a teen, or any adult who loves this beautiful story. Until tomorrow, you can get an extra 20% off if you pre-order it through this link (provided to me by the author), so it's a perfect time to order it as a Christmas gift.
Thanks so much to Rachel Dodge and the publisher for providing me an e-arc in exchange for this review.
For more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday recommendations, check out Always in the Middle!
Hi! I'm Faith. I blog about books and creativity, family and faith. Welcome!