Publication Date: March 14, 2023
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Maria Latif is used to not having a space of her own. But what happens when she feels the sudden urge to put down roots in the most unexpected of places? Karuna Riazi crafts a tender coming-of-age story about friendship, family, and new beginnings. A Bit of Earth is a reimagining of the classic The Secret Garden for readers of Other Words for Home and The Bridge Home.
Growing up in Pakistan, Maria Latif has been bounced between reluctant relatives for as long as she can remember—first because of her parents’ constant travel, and then because of their deaths. Maria has always been a difficult child, and it never takes long for her guardians to tire of her. So when old friends of her parents offer to “give her a better life” in the United States, Maria is shipped to a host family across the world.
When Maria arrives on Long Island, things are not quite what she was expecting. Mr. Clayborne has left on an extended business trip, Mrs. Clayborne seems emotionally fraught, and inexplicable things keep happening in the Claybornes’ sprawling house. And then Maria finds a locked gate to an off-limits garden. Since she’s never been good at following rules, Maria decides to investigate and discovers something she never thought she’d find: a place where she feels at home.
With a prickly main character, a sullen boy, two friendly allies, and a locked garden, A Bit of Earth has everything a reader could want from a retelling of The Secret Garden. Karuna Riazi’s evocative prose is interspersed with poetic verses, illuminating each character’s search for a place they can truly call home. This tender yet incisive reimagining of a classic work will captivate fans of the original—and widen the appeal for a modern audience.
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