Harriet the Spy is the last book on my required reading list for this month and I’m glad I chose it because it is an easy and quick read, perfect for my hectic schedule and provided a welcome respite to one of my most stressful months of this year.
I must confess that when I bought this book, I did not have any idea what the story was all about and I did not also know that there was a movie made after it. I only thought when I saw my hardbound copy on the shelves of Booksale that the title has a familiar ring to it and since I am a fan of children’s books, I decided it was a book worth buying (and reading).
It turns out that Harriet the Spy is a very enjoyable read. My copy is the hardbound, illustrated one — the illustrations done by the author herself. Somehow, the drawings made my reading experience more enjoyable.
Harriet the Spy is divided into two parts. The first part introduces Harriet and her apparent emotional attachment to her nurse, Ole Golly, and her adventures as a writer/spy. I find the first part a little bit dragging, but the second part is where all the exciting events happen, when Ole Golly decides to get married and went away, leaving Harriet all by herself and trying to make sense of things on her own, especially when her well-guarded ‘spying’ notebook was found and read by her classmates.
The characters are all interesting. I especially liked Ole Golly and her quotable quotes from famous writers. She is the only one who seems to understand Harriet and knows how to handle Harriet’s tantrums – in fact Ole Golly’s much more adept when it comes to managing Harriet than the child’s own parents. And it seems that Harriet can relate more with her nurse than her own parents. This becomes even more apparent when Ole Golly went away and Harriet started misbehaving all the time. It is sad to know that Harriet’s parents do not know much about their very own daughter.
And then there’s Harriet, the main character. At first, I cannot understand her. I was thinking, “What is wrong with this child? She’s always SHOUTING and throwing tantrums when she doesn’t get her way.” But then again, aren’t kids misunderstood most of the time? Harriet seems to be the daughter of a well-off family. She has a nurse. Their family has a cook. And her parents are always out for dinner. Harriet seems to have everything a child can ask for, but why is she a being brat? I think it is because she is always left in the care of her nurse that she cannot relate well with her parents anymore.
I remember keeping a diary while I was in high school. Even though it wasn’t like Harriet’s notebook where she jots down her thoughts about people on her spying expeditions, my diary also contained some of my thoughts, mostly about my crush (or crushes, whatever). I wasn’t as profound as Harriet was when it comes to writing, but it was the love of writing that made me relate more with Harriet. I felt sad when her friends and classmates turned against her. I felt her loneliness and her loss. I did not expect that Harriet the Spy will be an emotional story – all along I thought that this a mere children’s book about spying and adventure, just like the adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer which I read as a child.
Harriet the Spy is a touching story of growing up and letting go, and how to make the most out of every tragic situation.
12/50 2012 Goodreads Reading Goal.
2/2 Required Reading Challenge: March