Author: M.E. Hembroff
How I got the book: I got a free digital copy from the author in exchange for an honest review
Summary (from Goodreads):
Bess’s mother moves them to Pineview, away from her best friend Megan, and she terribly misses her. Six months earlier, Bess’s father died in a car crash, and she’s also in the midst of recovering from the final stages of polio. She’s in a sad and lonely place. From the moment she and her mother settle into their new home, Bess hears whispering voices and encounters a ghostly figure in the well-kept garden and in her dreams. She can’t make sense of everything and so shares her observations with Megan by writing her regular letters. During the summer, she makes new friends, including an orange and white tomcat that she names Pumpkin, and her new neighbour Josie. With the help of Mrs. O’Toole, the woman who watches her, Bess continues to recover, both physically and emotionally. She becomes more and more curious about the garden and the unexplained clues that she finds there. In Bess’s Magical Garden, Bess discovers her own true strengths through enduring life’s struggles. She – with Josie and Megan’s help – also finds some hidden items in the garden, including a map, that leave the girls with more questions than answers. Who was the figure that visited Bess? Will Bess and her friends be able to uncover the garden’s secrets? Or will those secrets be mysteries forever?
I read this book in one sitting, but only because it was quick at 81 pages, not because I was very much into the story.
This book is for children and I think it’s important for kids to read. We follow Bess as she and her mother move to a new home. Bess is reluctant at first, just like any kid would be, and she’s trying to overcome some things. She’s recovering from polio and the death of her father.
The garden and her new friend, Pumpkin the cat, help her get through these tough lemons life threw at her. I think the garden is a metaphor to her healing both physically and mentally.
However, throughout most of the story, I didn’t feel as though there was too much going on. The mystery wasn’t really intriguing to me and the story definitely moved along pretty quickly, having to be wrapped up in less than 100 pages.
There were a lot of characters thrown into the mix, some I felt weren’t even really necessary. At the end of each chapter, Bess wrote a letter to her friend Megan. To be honest, I think the story could have been told simply in letters to Megan.
The writing style wasn’t my cup of coffee, but seeing how the book is for kids much younger, I think the writing is pretty spot on.
Overall, this book does have an important message and the main characters were cute.
Bess’s Magical Garden by M.E. Hembroff gets 4 out of 5 stars.
“I think that the garden is magical, because it brought Pumpkin to me and taught me to love my life again.” –M.E. Hembroff, Bess’s Magical Garden