Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 6.19.21 PMWhen Mary unlocks the door to the garden in The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, a whole new world is revealed.

Mary Lennox finds herself in England, with nothing but the clothes on her back and vague instructions on where she’ll spend the rest of her childhood. Mary, formerly the spoiled daughter of rich British parents living in India, is now even more unloved than before; she is all alone. After losing her parents and servants to a cholera epidemic in India, she is nearly forgotten; abandoned by the frightened servants who survived the cholera but didn’t have the heart to take in a sickly and spoilt child like Mary.

Mary is summoned to live in Yorkshire, England by her uncle Archibald Craven. But Mary’s new life is full of mysteries. The many rooms in the house are empty, a strange wailing noise penetrates the walls at night, and Mr. Craven spends his days eerily locked up in his study. But strangest of all, Mary has heard talk of a secret garden. Mr. Craven locked it when his beloved wife died and threw away the key.

But one fateful day, the pieces of mystery begin to fall into place.  Mary discovers Colin, the secret disabled son of Mr. Craven. Colin believes he is unloved because his mother’s death during childbirth created a rift between him and his father. Mary finds the key to the garden, and lets herself in. With the help of a local boy named Dickon, the old, decrepit garden blooms into a kingdom of living flowers and birds. Digging and running about the garden with her newfound friends puts color into Mary’s cheeks. But most of all, Colin is gaining the strength that he thought he lost forever. Can the secret garden that brought Mary to life give strength and happiness to Colin and repair his torn relationship with his father?

Classic reads aren’t always the easiest books to read. As a high schooler, I have come to enjoy classics and canonical reads, but I’ll admit that it is a very acquired taste. Perhaps the best way to begin is with a book like The Secret Garden. This book will appeal to many ages and types of readers; it is the perfect foray into the world of classics. It is fairly easy to read and understand. The plot and the overall sense of mystery is unique. It is interesting to watch Mary’s curiosity about the world unfold as she discovers the joys of life, like good food and pretty gardens. The different aspects of the book are what makes the book appealing, especially the sense of mystery and romance associated with the secret garden.

Though it must be said, some of the things the British people say about the native people of India are somewhat offensive, then and now. However, it is understood that the book was published in the early 20th century, so people’s attitudes towards other races were even more misinformed and prejudiced than they are today.

If you are looking for a unique and interesting classic about childhood and the magic of friendship, The Secret Garden is the book to read.