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Book Review: Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau is a coming of age novel taking place in Baltimore, Maryland. During the 1970's, fourteen year old Mary Jane is caught in the middle of her family's conservative ideals and the progressive ideals of the Cone family where she is a summer nanny. Mary Jane is a sheltered teen who enjoys cooking with her mother, listening to Broadway Show Tunes, and singing in the church choir. On the first day of work, she is shocked at the mess in the Cone's home and introduces them to home cooked meals and keeping the house clean. In return, Mary Jane gets a front row seat to sex, drugs, and rock & roll. This novel was the selected for the book club I belong to. Again, this is a novel that I likely wouldn't have chosen to read on my own, but I was glad I did. Mary Jane is the first novel I've read by Jessica Anya Blau, and I was impressed with her storytelling.  Touching on race, class, and stereotypes, along with drugs and infidelity, it reminded

Book Review: The Doll in the Garden, A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn

book review the doll in the garden

The Doll in the Garden, A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn is a ghost story about ten year old Kristi and her mother moving into the upstairs apartment of Miss Cooper's house. Miss Cooper is an elderly woman who dislikes children and warns Kristi to stay out of the garden or there would be consequences. When a white cat that casts no shadow appears in the garden and a little girl crying could be heard coming from there, Kristi decides to investigate.

I discovered Mary Downing Hahn's books at my middle school library and decided to check one of them out when I couldn't find any books I wanted to read. The Doll in the Garden was one of the first books I read by Mary Downing Hahn and contributed to my love of reading books in the horror, suspense, and thriller genres. In my quest to reread my way through my childhood, I decided it was time to find out if this story was as good as I remembered. Although I remembered the basic storyline of the book, I didn't recall all the details, and I'm glad that I didn't remember everything.

book review the doll in the garden a ghost story
What I loved about this book as an adult is that it deals with some heavy themes in a way that younger children can grasp. These subjects include death of a parent and a friend, cancer, consumption, and friendship. The depth of these topics for such a short book was phenomenal, and by the end of the story, I was actually crying. As a child, I remember The Doll in the Garden being very spooky but not scary and not being able to wait to read more spooky books. There are no negative things I can say about this book, even as an adult.

Five out of five stars is what I rated The Doll in the Garden, A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn. If you enjoyed this book, I recommend Mary Downing Hahn's Wait Till Helen Comes, A Ghost Story.

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