Book review of Into the Bright Open: A Secret Garden Remix by Cherie Dimaline | Teen Ink

Book review of Into the Bright Open: A Secret Garden Remix by Cherie Dimaline

July 17, 2023
By Moonwallflower GOLD, Maple Ridge, Columbia
Moonwallflower GOLD, Maple Ridge, Columbia
13 articles 2 photos 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
You can be very wild and still be very wise.
- Yoko Ono

I always find it comforting to read a story and feel seen, heard. I think that's partly why I have a complex relationship with what we consider literary classics. Most classics were written about a hundred years ago or more; they were written at a time when homophobia, sexism and racism were taboo, often even accepted. Since every work of art reflects the society in which the author lives, it's thus not surprising the classics abound in white, heterosexual and cisgender characters and that they fail to represent minorities that have existed since the beginning.

Since it first got published in 1911 by Frances Hodgson Burnett, "The Secret Garden" has been adapted for film, theatre and radio. I actually have a friend who is part of a theatre troupe and was part of an adaptation of the famous novel.

One day, out of curiosity, I asked her if she recommended reading the classical novel, and she shook her head. It's boring, she said.

If a teenager today might find Hodgson Burnette's "The Secret Garden" boring to read, I think that would be far from the case with Cherie Dimaline's version.

"Into the Bright Open: A Secret Garden Remix" tells the story of Mary Lennox, the daughter of a wealthy family, who seeks to be loved without knowing what love means. As is often the case for girls, Mary's first role model is her mother, an aloof and pretentious woman.

Although Mary's parents die early in the book, we can feel their influence on their daughter throughout the entire story. In her early days in her new home, her mother's brother's mansion, Mary has trouble understanding how to behave with her uncle's staff. Should she show her superiority by being haughty like her mother and aunt, or should she see them more as part of the family?

One of the things that touched me most about "Into the Bright Open: A Secret Garden Remix" was witnessing Mary's transformation. Indeed in the matter of a couple chapters, Mary changes completely. Although the first person she confides in is her cousin, Olive, Mary soon connects with Flora and her sister Sophie, two Métis girls of approximately Mary's age. With their help, Mary hopes to save Olive from her mysterious illness. And Sophie… It's with her that Marie finally discovers what it is to be loved unconditionally.

"They hung there, two girls sharing the first kiss of their lives, suspended in the sky and everything else faded away—her parents, her loneliness, her entire solitary life." — Cherie Dimaline

This story, in addition to having a very touching romance, is a testament to the importance of listening to others. Listening to others is essential because sometimes… Listening is the first step toward freedom.

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