The Bone Garden by Heather Kassner
Released: August 6, 2019
The Bone Garden is an interesting read that my middle grade self would have found delightful, if a bit haunting.
While slow at times, I truly enjoyed this gothic middle grade story of a girl who wants nothing more than to be real. Equal parts chilling and fun, The Bone Garden is great for middle grade readers! Even though the book is not meant for my age, I still found myself enjoying this creepy read. I thought the plot was interesting and twisty enough to keep me reading, and the imagery Kassner creates is spooky and delightful. It's not your average magic within these pages, and I think that makes it quite refreshing for young readers. Before I get too deep into my thoughts, here is a brief synopsis:
Irréelle is made of bone dust and Miss Vesper's imagination--and Miss Vesper never lets her forget it. With an appearance Miss Vesper finds distasteful, the young girl can only find friends amongst the departed within the Bone Garden. But, after an incident where Miss Vesper feels Irréelle has made one too many mistakes, she threatens Irréelle with something the young girl never thought possible--to imagine her out of existence. Fleeing the only home she's ever known, Irréelle descends into the Bone Garden and begins the biggest adventure of her life, unraveling the mystery surrounding Miss Vesper and her own existence.
But, it's more than just it's chilling premise--inside, readers find friendship that can overcome any obstacle, the fears we all have of being good enough or accepted, and sticking up for yourself (and your friends) when it's not easy. Laced with important messages, The Bone Garden has much to offer the reader.
At first, I wasn't really sure what to think of the characters. Admittedly, it has been a while since I've read MG, so I decided to keep going and give it a chance. I was pleasantly surprised and glad that I continued reading. Irréelle is the self-conscious young girl who wants to please everyone, to make friends and be sure of herself, that I know I was when I was that age. I think that's what connected me to this book. Yes, I love the magic, the creepy backstory, the chilling mystery at the head of it all, but the characters are what drove me. When Irréelle meets Guy and Lass, who are more self-assured but just as uncomfortable as she is, it truly brought me back to those years where I felt the same way, and maybe my peers did as well.
Overall, I'm glad I gave this book the chance it deserved! I highly recommend this to young readers, and even people like me who like to read a middle grade book every now and then.
Pick it up now on a shelf near you!