Sunday 16 February 2020

Books, tea and treats on a long weekend...

It’s been chilly these past few days, and we’ve gotten quite a bit of snow, so it finally looks and feels like a real winter.  I worry so much about climate change, and, in January and February, the middle of winter, I prefer cold and snowy days to mild, slushy ones, so the weather today makes me happy. 
Speaking of happy, I have a steaming cup of a different chai tea today, an Organic Chai black tea with an Assam base which I’ve had before (it is a finer grind, but it's oh so delicious!) and a yummy Date Bar to keep me company this morning, which is not only on a long weekend, but also happens to be my birthday.  Maybe to celebrate I should go out and buy a new book… hmmm, that sounds like a great idea!
I finished reading a suspenseful novel by an author I have never read before, The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell.  This was recommended to me by one of the teachers at my school, and I really enjoyed it.  Set in a lush private garden in the centre of London, the opening chapter introduces us to twelve-year-old Pip, who is helping her mother out in the bathroom while she is sick after attending a party in the communal gardens.  Pip gets her mother settled in bed, but feels she must find her older sister before heading off to bed herself. Her sister, Grace, is celebrating her thirteenth birthday that day, which just happens to coincide with the neighbourhood party, and she has been hanging out with her friends and her boyfriend all day long.  When Pip heads into the park, she does find Grace, but she is lying in the bushes, bashed and bloodied, her clothes in disarray. The rest of the novel draws us back to six months before, when Grace and Pip move into their new apartment with their mother Clare. Because it is the middle of winter, they don’t really have much opportunity to get to know the neighbours whose flats are located in buildings surrounding the communal park and gardens, but once the spring weather hits, they are drawn into the community, perhaps a bit closer than Clare feels comfortable with.  But the girls love it, having moved from their home and school abruptly due to a tragic incident involving their father’s battle with mental illness. They are embraced by Adele and Leo, a rather hippy-ish couple who have lived in the neighbourhood for years, Leo having grown up there. They have three girls, Catkin, Fern and Willow, who are close in age to Pip and Grace, and who are homeschooled by Adele. Their group also includes Tyler, a young girl who lives across the park, and who is friends with Dylan, a handsome boy who also lives nearby. As close as they are, and as much as they share with each other, these friendships are also fraught with difficulties, the usual ones with which teenagers have struggles for years, connection, individuality, love and the need to belong.  As readers learn about these relationships, as well as the complex and sometimes confusing relationships between the adults in the neighbourhood, we are offered many potential suspects in the attack on Grace, but who actually did it, and why? You’ll have to read this complex, suspenseful page-turner to find out.
That’s all for today.  I want to get outside for a long-ish walk before we get on with our busy day.  I hope you will take advantage of the extra day off to get lots of reading done, as I surely will.  Happy Family Day!   
Bye for now…

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