Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday Pages: Harriet The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh!!

Hey there guys!

Today's Saturday Pages post is up considerably later than usual but not only I was massively tired and rather emotionally wrenched after a bit of tiring night shift at work, but also once I've been up and flaffing around the internet, I've been procastinating about a bit... but here it is!

After skipping last month's read cause I ended up being too busy, this month I've been back with the amazing ladies at The Midnight Garden and their fantastic Classic Young Adult & Middle Grade Challenge!

Harriet the SpyHarriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading Harriet was once again part of the Classics Middle Grade & YA realong that the awesome ladies of The Midnight Garden have going on this year. I arrived late but I've loved joining and reading all these books that I missed on my own childhood. With some it's easier to see them with my own childhood eyes, but others are a lil more difficult and I end up reading them as my adult self only, and Harriet the Spy was one of those.

Harriet was a breath of fresh air if we discuss more usual characters in classic YA, because many of the ones that come to mind are too perfect children with their prayers, their chores and their telling the kids that are reading them to behave like that or else. Harriet felt more like a real child, like someone kids that aren't perfect can relate to in one way or another.

Harriet is girl that is different from all the girls I read about on most of my MG reads, she wants to be a spy and works very hard at it, keeping her notebooks full of her writings and observations, that hit me as mean without meaning to, born in a rather privileged family and with a nurse, Ole Golly, to take care of her. She loves her routines and will only eat tomato sandwiches for lunch at school.

When her latest notebook ends up in the hands of her friends and classmates she has to face the aftermath of all the mean things she's written about them, and is confronted with quite a few lessons about growing up at the tender age of 11.

Maybe I was a nicer kid back in my own childhood or maybe I was more prone to instrospection and self analysis on my own journals, but except for some very poignant comments here and there about life, most of Harriet notes on her notebooks came across as just nasty, without malice but showing a certain lack of empathy that could be simply part of growing up, but it seems to me that she fails to see how what she gets from her classmates and friends after the notebook is found is no more and no less but what she was writing in private.

I found this book to be a very fascinating read about the time period and the world that Harriet lived in, one of material privilege but of a lack of emotional support. Her parents though loving simply had left everything in the hands of the nurse and once Ole Golly leaves, they realize they don't know their own child.

Harriet in some aspects made me think of kids that although not fully, are somewhat on the autism spectrum with her difficulties of grasping other people's emotional responses or responding with empathy, her attachment & compulsion to write on her notebooks, her inordinate love of routines only broken when she's terribly upset and her tomato sandwich obsession. After talking to the ladies at Midnight Garden I also realized that there seems to be a certain queer subtext on Harriet's preferring her more boy-ish spy clothes to her more normal girly clothes. But all simply boiled down to Harriet being a character with which people that aren't exactly "normal" or "perfect" could relate to.

Of the secondary characters some might have seemed more cookie cutter typical, like the main mean girls that seem to only want to emulate their mothers and have tea and play bridge, but there are also others that are great as contrast, such as Sport, a boy so young that still has to be the brains and common sense in his household with a rather made writer father. And Janie with her love for chemistry and experiments that also made her not exactly the kind of daughter her well-to-do parents would have expected.

This was one of those books that have left me with more food for thought that fuzzy feelings, but both are equally important for me and equally necessary. Very well deserved 4 stars for this one!

View all my reviews


  1. Yay. <3 Amazing review Pili. I'm glad you enjoyed this book so much :D I'm curious about this book. I might read it one day. <3 Harriet sounds awesome :) And so sweet and different. Thank you for sharing sweetie. <3

    1. Thank you so much Carina! I do hope you'll read this one and love it!
      And a big thank you for always showing so much love to my blog, your such a sweetheart! <3

  2. Warm and fuzzy, awww! I'm so glad you loved this one. I don't read too many Middle Grade novels anymore, honestly. Excellent review, Pili!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  3. Great review Pili, this bring backs memories because I read this book when I was in school. I don't remember much about it but you made some of the things familiar, like the secondary characters and Harriet's parents kind of abandoning here. Glad that the MG ladies are introducing you to some great MG books!

  4. Wow this sounds like a really good classic! I love how many themes and messages this book conveys and how it's okay to be different. Sounds fun :D

    Lovely review! <33


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