Thirteen Years + “The Girls in the Garden” by Lisa Jewell

0 (1)Thirteen years. At about 4:41 EST today I will have known my daughter for 13 years.

Last night I started thinking about 13 years. About how much life can happen in 13 years.

I started thinking about how much life has happened to my daughter. And how much of life is still out there for her.

And how fast its all gone, and will continue to go, for me.

In 13 years she’s learned to walk and talk. To swim and run. She’s learned to read and write and communicate. To text and Instagram and message.

In 13 years she’s learned how to make friends. She’s learned how hurtful other girls can be, when they mean to and sometimes when they don’t.

In 13 years she’s learned that boys are a different breed than girls, and they can hurt you, usually not on purpose (at least not yet).

In 13 years she’s learned that she loves to swim, hates to run, and likes lacrosse a lot. She’s learned that she wants straight hair, although she has perfectly wavy hair.

In 13 years she’s grown and changed, and she’s straddling that gap between childhood and womanhood.

And then I start thinking about the next 13 year and what’s waiting for her to learn.

In the next 13 years she’ll learn about literature, history, chemistry, biology. Algebra and Spanish. About high school pressure and peer pressure and school spirit.

In the next 13 years she’ll learn about falling in and out of love; heartache and heartbreak. She’ll learn about good friends and frenemies.  Winning and losing and coming close but not-quite-getting-it. About finals and the freedom of summers.

In the next 13 years she will get her license and her first real job. She’ll get her first ticket (parking hopefully). She’ll have more and more responsibility, but she’ll find that means more and more freedom.

In the next 13 years she will have to make decisions I don’t want to think about (but do). And I’ll have to trust that I’ve taught her enough to make the right decisions.

In the next 13 years she will choose a college, and go away from me. She’ll find independence is wonderful until she needs her mom.

In the next 13 years she will finish college or get a job or both. She will have found a career or gone to graduate school. She will have figured out what she wants to be, or at least know the general direction.

In the next 13 years she will have fallen in love, and may even be married. There could be a baby, or the thought of motherhood.

In the next 13 years she’ll realize there are some evil people that want to hurt her or steal from her. She’ll learn that her life is precious, and that she’s not immortal.

In the next 13 years she’ll experience the death of those she loves. She will have gone from rolling her eyes at her mom (and dad) and start to realize that we’re okay people, and that we right about some things.

In the next 13 years I’ll watch her grow up, grow away from me. I’ll watch her become her own person, finding her feet in a world that often wants to knock her over. Hopefully she finds people who hold her up rather than knock her down.

In the next 13 years she hopefully learns that she is stronger and smarter than she realizes, and that she’s worth the best this world has to offer.

I hope the next 13 years don’t go by as fast as the last 13. Because 26 seems really far away, but so did 13 on the day she was born.

But suddenly 13 is here.

Okay, enough of 13.

Onto my review of The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell.

How well do you really know your neighbors? In the close confines of your neighborhood, how safe are your children? Do you really know? Do you really want to know?

The Premise

When Clare Wild and her two daughters are forced to move from their large home into a small apartment, none of them are too happy. But outside their small back garden there is a gate, leading to a large communal garden surrounded by houses and apartments on all sides. A secret Utopia hidden from the world.

Clare is dealing with things she never thought would be issues. Her husband’s schizophrenia pushed him to burn down their home, luckily while Clare and the girls were out. He’s now hospitalized, and she’s determined to ensure her daughters are safe and as happy as possible.. This neighborhood seems perfect.

Thirteen year-old Grace finds a group of friends her own age. 12 year-old Pip is leery of the group and the whole neighborhood, but Clare forms a friendship with a couple, Adele and Leo Howes, parents of three girls that are part of Grace’s new group. Leo grew up on the park, and is entwined in its history, both the good and the bad.

On a midsummer night, the neighborhood holds their annual party in the park. Clare and the girls attend a barbecue at the Howes’ home, during which Clare drinks a little too much (she rarely drinks), and Grace wanders off with her friends. After Pip gets her mother home, she goes out in search of Grace, finding her unconscious in the small, secluded rose garden within the park–right where another young girl was found dead 20 years earlier.

What really happened? What’s been going with her daughter while Clare assumed they were safe? Who are these people who live in the park? And how well can you ever know your neighbors?

My Thoughts

I love a good mystery. This one fit the bill. Lots of suspects, all with motive.

The Girls in the Garden hits home the lesson that no family is perfect, and that every family has a hidden history, a part that they keep from the world.

Jewell’s characters are richly developed, and the plot is complex and elaborate. The narration shifts, giving readers a wide, diverse view of the mystery as well as the park. She writes with wondrous depth and breadth, creating wickedly gorgeous settings and characters.

And she makes readers relive that time of being not quite a child and not quite an adult, simmering with hormones and emotions and unfocused energy. Amazingly, she also perfectly describes the insecurities of motherhood.

All while unfolding a psychological thriller that keeps the pages turning.

The story reminds of my favorite park (as well as their large communal garden): seemingly peaceful and quite, but awash with secret nooks and crannies where evil may hide.

I only have one qualm with this book: the ending was unsatisfying for me. But I don’t want to give anything away, so I won’t say any more.

That said, I had a VERY hard time putting this book down. And it will be just as difficult for me to let my girls run with a pack of teens.

I give The Girls in the Garden 4 stars.


2 thoughts on “Thirteen Years + “The Girls in the Garden” by Lisa Jewell

  1. The “Thirteen years” part moved me to tears and I had to think of my own mum and the last couple of years were so many things had changed and how fast tiem flies.
    Thank you for sharing. I wish you all the best for you and your daughter ❤


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