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The Corner Garden ,

Jessie Barfoot is precocious, witty and wounded, a female Holden Caulfield whose standards are too elevated for ordinary life. In this moving and funny novel, Jessie befriends a Dutch refugee from World War II, learning to be bad before she tries to be good.

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I think I’ll call myself Gretel in this book. It’s not really my name. My name is really Jessie Barfoot, which is a perfectly respectable name, I guess, except that there’s nothing respectable about me. That’s one of the reasons we moved to Toronto. I’ve reached the age of fifteen and a half, and we’re going to get a New Start.

Old secrets and new starts stand at the centre of The Corner Garden. Questions of being good—and very bad—are intertwined in a story that moves between occupied Amsterdam during the Second World War to modern mongrelized Toronto.

Jessie Barfoot is precocious, witty and wounded, a female Holden Caulfield whose standards are too elevated for ordinary life. She’s been raised by single mother Michelle, a part-time student and sometime cab driver. When Michelle marries a charitable lawyer, Jessie feels only dismay.

I consider myself far too young to have learned the meaning of pro bono, she tells her diary, much less feel its impact upon my so-called innocent life.

After the new family moves to Toronto, Jessie’s curiosity is piqued by their cranky next door neighbour. Originally from the Netherlands, Martha van Telligen is a superb gardener with a secret she’s guarded ferociously since she was Jessie’s age. Yet once Jessie charms her way into the garden, Martha’s past begins a slow bleed into Jessie’s uncertain present, threatening both their futures.

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The Corner Garden Reviews

ggaward

This writing is a gift of insight, humour and profound slant: new world and old in
contagious communication. The vision is so intelligent as to be almost breathtaking.

The Corner Garden ~ Linda Spalding ~ Governor General’s Award Winner