Genre:  Children's Fiction, Early 1900's, Mental Illness, Coming of Age 
Reading Challenges:  18 for 100+ in 2009

The Locked Garden is set in the year 1900, and is primarily the story of two sisters: Verna, age 12, and Carlie, age 6.  After the recent death of their mother, the girls move with their father, who is a physician,  to a new home located on the grounds of an insane asylum where he will be given the opportunity to test his theories of treating mental illness with medication.  Joining the family in their journey is Aunt Maude, their maternal aunt, who seems determined to constantly remind the children and their father of the recent loss they have suffered in an effort to keep the memory of her sister alive.  Shortly after starting life in their new home, their father hires a young patient, Eleanor, to assist in the care of Verna and Carlie.  Eleanor's arrival changes everything, and soon Verna and Carlie find themselves at odds with both their father and their aunt as they try to ensure that Eleanor will remain one of the family.

This was an enjoyable read, which at times reminded me of Sarah, Plain and Tall.  I found the understanding and treatment of mental illness at the time of the novel to be especially interesting.  The book certainly didn't feel like a history lesson, but I felt that I learned a lot during the course of my reading.  This book would be a perfect introduction to helping children have an understanding of the concepts of mental illness and depression.  I can picture myself someday reading it to my own children when they are older so that we can have a discussion about what mental illness is, and how such illnesses are treated today versus in the past.  The book also deals with death and grieving, although this is certainly a minor focus of the book.  I am mentioning it because I really appreciated Whelan's handling of this topic.

The story itself is very fast paced.  I found this to be a quick read.  I was able to finish it in an afternoon.  The target age group is 8-12, or grades 3-7, and I feel that this book was perfectly suited to this audience.  The only reason I can't give this book a higher rating is because of the abrupt ending.  I really felt that the story came to a screeching halt just as I was bracing for the climax.  Perhaps this is because Whelan is planning to write a sequel, but I just found myself shocked that this book was actually over.

I would like to thank Harper Collins for generously providing me a review copy.  Whelan is a great writer, and this isn't the first novel of hers that I have read.  It certainly won't be my last.

I would love to giveaway my advanced review copy to a lucky reader.  To enter, please leave a comment below.  Extra entries can be earned by subscribing, following, or posting this giveaway on your blog.  Please leave me a way to contact you, as well as a link to your blog so I can see the posting.  The contest starts today, and will end next Sunday, May 17th.  I will announce the winners on the blog, and will also contact them via email.  Please, only enter if you have a US or Canada mailing address.
27 Responses
  1. Book Lady Says:

    This sounds like a great book! :)



  2. Tami Says:

    This sounds great! I would love to win it! :)

    tami.winbush @ gmail.com

    Have you read Of Mice and Men? The way they handled the mentally challenged in that book broke my heart! But not sure if it was kindness or cruelty.

  3. Hilarie Says:

    Of Mice and Men is one of my favorites! Thanks both for your comments.

  4. rubymoon Says:

    This is a book I would love to read and thank you for offering up your ARC for this giveaway!

    rubymoonstone at gmail dot com

  5. Irene Yeates Says:

    A discussion of mental illness is difficult enough with adults, but to be able to write a book for middle school children with sensitivity and compassion such as you describe must offer a compelling read.

    cyeates AT nycap DOT rr DOT com

  6. Valorie Says:

    I'd love a chance to win! I also follow. And I blogged: http://www.morbid-romantic.net/2009/05/11/book-giveaways-0511-0517/.


  7. malleycc Says:

    I would love a chance to win. Mental illness is such a tough subject. I just finished The Flying Troutman. Very interesting read I felt myself identifying with the daughter, having had a mother with mental illness myself.

  8. MJ Says:

    I'd love this.


  9. Marie Burton Says:

    I follow, please enter me for this one.
    marieburton2004 at yahoo dot com

  10. Ashley Says:

    This kind of sounds like the Secret Garden. I'd love to read this book, please enter me.



  11. Ashley Says:

    I'm a follower!

  12. Ashley Says:

    I posted this contest on my sidebar at http://booksobsession.blogspot.com

  13. cpullum Says:

    Count me in! love to read the book!

  14. Carol Says:

    I would love to give this book to my granddaughter after I read it. Thank you for the giveaway!
    Carol M
    mittens0831 AT aol.com

  15. Carol Says:

    I forgot to say that I follow your blog.
    Carol M
    mittens0831 AT aol.com

  16. mindy Says:

    sounds like a wonderful read thanks for the giveaway minsthins at optonline dot net

  17. Hillary Says:

    Sounds like a good book. Please enter me. Thanks!

  18. Janel Says:

    I would love to win this for my daughter. It sounds like a book she would love. Thanks!

    jgbeads AT gmail DOT com

  19. Renee G Says:

    This sounds like it would be worth reading.

  20. susan Says:

    It looks like a good read, thanks

  21. jemscout425 Says:

    love to add it to my summer reading list

  22. Anna Says:

    I'd love to be entered! I posted the giveaway in my sidebar, and I subscribe via Google Reader. Thanks!

    diaryofaneccentric at hotmail dot com
    Diary of an Eccentric

  23. gaby317 Says:

    Please count me in!

    + I'm a new follower
    + I've posted a link to your contest in my blog's sidebar


    I agree with Ashley that the book reminds me of The Secret Garden.

    gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

  24. paula h Says:

    This sounds like something my daughters and I would both enjoy.


  25. Sharon Says:

    This book sounds like a great read right up my alley. Thanks for the giveaway

    sharr1226 at yahoo dot com

  26. Lady Roxi Says:

    Love to have this.



  27. Esme Says:

    This one sounds great.



Post a Comment

Great comments are the greatest reward!