A little over a year ago, I sat down and read The Secret Garden. I had checked out a large illustrated version from my library and devoured it in one day. Surprisingly, I enjoyed it tremendously. Reading this novel was part of what inspired me to attempt this challenge, to read through the top 100 childrens books and blog about my experience. Being reminded of the wonder of great childrens literature, I knew that reading the 100 novels on my list would not be a waste of time. And now, as I am coming to the finish line of said challenge, I am reminded again by a re-read of The Secret Garden.
Why will this book remain relevant for many years and decades to come? First, because children are spoiled and bratty. Very few children even remotely resemble Burnett’s Sara Crewe in A Little Princess. I would venture to say that most children likely resemble Mary Lennox. Please don’t take offense, parents, it has little to do with you. Children are innately selfish and do not understand the structure of the world. To read of the transformation that occurs within Mary during her time of discovering the garden, might be a source of encouragement and inspiration to parents and, dare I say, children everywhere. It is possible to reach outside of oneself and become better than you even considered you could.
Secondly, people grieve and separate from others. We might be quick to point fingers to Mary’s absent mother, as well as Colin’s absent father, but the fact of the matter is that we don’t know and may never understand exactly what the people around us go through and why they separate themselves from us and other friends in their lives. Thank goodness that Mary could be reunited with her only family and that Colin’s father found his son as delightful as he was and chose to move forward in that relationship. The themes of this novel are real and a part of human nature. I hope this book never begins collecting dust in my collection.
by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Originally published in 1911