I was 11 years old the first time I read Harriet The Spy. Harriet is the same age as I was that time and also has the same dream I have- to become a writer.
It feels like I have someone who understands me and so I never let the book out of my hands until I finished reading it. Literally, like when my mother would send for me to buy something, I would walk all the way to the store and back home reading the book.
Though I was quite absorbed with the book, I don’t really like Harriet that much. Harriet is honest, brutally honest in fact and borderline mean.
While I really don’t like her character, I identified with her loneliness. I was a loner as a kid, opting to read books than play with other kids who will beat me in the games anyway. I sucked at playing, in all honesty.
I found my refuge in books and Harriet seems to have found hers in spying and eavesdropping and writing down her opinions on people in her journal that she brings all the time. And the kind of opinions she got is really something she would never really want people to read.
But life happens.
Her classmates found out about the notebook and they banned together against her. Her two best friends are among them and Harriet is miserable.
As her situation worsens, I hoped with bated breath for a transformation of her character. But then, I realized, Harriet never changed. She just learned to make her way around. It could be disappointing for those who really hoped for Harriet’s ultimate redemption.
But sometimes, there are realities in this world that try as we might, we can’t change. The same goes for Harriet.
The disturbing themes of this book, the attitude, language and the rawness of the main character makes this book hard to rate. If I will rate this book based on the story itself I would rate it 5/5 because of the exploration of the sometimes hard to accept facts of a candid world. I will have to rate it 3/5 though for how it will affect children with it’s depressed main character because after reading it, Harriet haunts me and her moods upset me.
So maybe if your child decided to read Harriet The Spy, it will be good if you are there to answer your child’s questions and guide him/her through Harriet’s unapologetically honest and matter-of-fact personality.