It’s been a long time since I’ve been so excited about a book that I wasn’t able to put it down. But that’s exactly what my experience with reading Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden was like.
This might sound a little strange to some of you who know me well. Anyone who really knows me knows that I’ve been a huge book nerd my whole life. Reading has always been a hobby of mine ever since I knew how to read. As a child, I would drive my parents crazy because I’d go to the library, check out 10 books, and read through them and beg them to bring me back to the library within 2 days.
So how is it that I missed reading a childhood classic, The Secret Garden, a book nearly every other child has loved and cherished throughout childhood until now?
The answer is simple: I was unable to look past the name of the book.
It sounds silly now. We’ve all heard that expression, “Never judge a book by it’s cover”, but we don’t often think about how we judge books based on their titles, too.
Now that I’m 25 with multiple degrees in English and Writing Arts I understand that the title doesn’t necessarily mean that the book is about gardening, but rather something much deeper and more symbolic. However, as a 7 year old kid at the Pitman library, I walked passed this book countless times and dismissed it because I assumed it must have been a book about gardening and I thought gardening was pretty boring to read about.
However, as a 20-something year old fresh out of college, I couldn’t put the thoughts of this book out of my mind. I have heard so much about it over my lifetime and so many people seemed to like it. One day while working at Walmart I saw that we were selling this book for the low price of $3.97. I couldn’t resist it at a price like that, so I purchased it.
I’ll admit that this book sat on my shelves for a good 2 or 3 years before I cracked it open (don’t even ask about the size of my “To be read” book pile…let’s just say I really love to buy books especially when I already have 10 or more left to read…). I am not sure what drew me to read the book this week, but I am glad I did.
The Secret Garden was easily one of the best books I have ever read in my life. Of course this book discusses gardening, but it’s definitely not a book about gardening like I assumed in my younger years. This is a book about life, hope, and how having a positive attitude and a positive outlook is the best medicine of all.
This book has three main characters: Dickon, Mary, and Colin. The book takes you on a magical journey where you get to watch the trio befriend one another and grow together. Dickon didn’t seem as important of a character to me as Mary and Colin were. Mary and Colin were definitely my favorite. I loved Mary because of her sassy, strong-willed personality. Colin of course annoyed me at first, but by the end of the novel I was completely in love with him, too.
Mary and Colin, despite being cousins, didn’t know each other in the beginning of the book, but when they do meet it is obvious that they need each other, or at least Colin very much needs Mary. For his whole life Colin convinced himself that he was a worthless invalid destined to die. However, Mary shows him that despite apparent medical issues, that doesn’t mean he can’t still live and enjoy life. She pushes him to get out of bed, to believe in himself, and to focus on the positive side of life rather than the negative. Mary is a nurturer who begins by nursing the garden back to life and ultimately finishes with nurturing Colin back to health as well.
I think The Secret Garden is a very important book to read, especially with the way things are in our society today. There are many sick children and it is heartbreaking. However, there are also many children whom we label as being sick and unable to achieve great things, or even basic things in life, simply because we choose to give up on them before giving them a chance. Just because you have a mental illness, an impairment, or another condition such as deafness, autism, or in the case of Colin, crippledness, does not mean you are completely “invalid” and on a different level from your peers. If you believe in yourself and have faith that you can live and achieve great things, you’d be surprised at what you can do. Just look at Colin, for years he believed he was dying and incapable of walking, but once he started to believe in himself he realized he really wasn’t sick at all, and he could not only walk, but run,too!
The Secret Garden is an incredible novel that encourages and promotes the power of a positive attitude and state of mind and then demonstrates how essential it is to focus on the good things in life if you want to continue growing and living.