This children’s book helped me to integrate my inner child. That’s a big commendation for a little book.

The author captures the central plot in any recovery: a secret garden that has been left to grow weeds and is hidden away. A place that is locked up and unvisited. A secret location which was once loved but has caused or been linked to great pain. And that pain is now located in many psyches in multiple different ways. It is a memory or emotive experience that is stuck fast.

Each character carries their own version of the story, and their combined mission is to find and then, watch the secret garden grow. I loved the earthy Dickson who can talk to the animals, the sickly Colin who shouts orders at his staff and refuses to leave his bedroom and of course Mary our central character who gets moved as an orphan from India to a rambling Yorkshire manor house.

It is the grief-stricken uncle who proves to be the key to the secret garden: he provides a final acknowledgement of the past and its place in the future. It’s his actions that bring each of the children (and their inner child) back together as a whole. He cements the work they have done into a new reality and better way of life. He validates their growth and notices each happy face.

And maybe it really is as simple as that. When the hard work has been put in, we need someone to tell us that we have done a good job. We need the hugs and congratulations. What seems so obvious for an outside person looking in is not quite so easy for a small child looking out.

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