Thursday, February 11, 2010

Harriet the Spy (Book Review)

Harriet loves to write in her notebook.  She takes notes on anything that she sees and writes down all her thoughts.  But when her notebook is read by her class and they see some of the things she thinks about them, they decided to start a Spycatcher's Club.

I read Harriet the Spy along time ago and, though, I thought it was good, it was never one of my re-reads as a kid.  There are so many elements that made me uncomfortable that I could never bring myself to read it again.  Some of that still hits home as an adult.  When I was a kid, I also felt sorry for Harriet.  Her classmates read something that was private and made her miserable and they turned on her so quickly without giving her a chance to explain.  They played mean tricks on her.  And she is so sad after the loss of her nurse, Ole Golly, which adds to her general misery after being ostracized at school.  So I could never stand to read about her depression.

As an adult, I see all of that and I still feel sorry for Harriet.  Because she really was depressed. But the thing I wonder about are the adults of the story, specifically Harriet's parents and Ole Golly.  I really wonder if they thought Ole Golly could leave and Harriet would just move on.  I'm assuming that Ole Golly did most of the caretaking and so it would be like your mother just one day saying Bye.  Have a nice life.  I mean I know Golly loved her and was sad to go.  I can see more of that now that I'm older.  But Harriet is not the most mature or introspective child and so she couldn't recognize the depression that followed Golly leaving.  And the adults really did nothing to help that.   And then to add to Harriet's misery her friends find her notebook and turn on her.  They really don't do too much to her, but then ignoring her I think is the worst.  Harriet though cannot understand why they are mad and if she would have just ask an adult I think they could have explained it to her.  Also her parents take away her notebook which was the worst decision they could have made.  I was glad when they finally took her to a psychologist because she really should have gone much earlier.

Harriet as a character is funny and insightful and brutally honest but she is also a pain in the neck and shouts too much and is very sassy.  In other words, she is very much like a lot of 11 year olds.  I think she was a good friend to Janie and Sport and out of all of the kids those two should have given her a chance to explain.  But then, I guess, when your best friend says mean things about you, you would take it the hardest.  Though someone needs to explain to the children that we all have uncharitable thoughts about others at one time or another.  Harriet just make the mistake of writing them down.

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