Book Notes: Lisa Jewell’s The Girls in the Garden

I took up this book as a light, entertaining read but it turned out to be a lot more warped than I was hoping to find.

The main idea is that homeschooling is bad because it turns children into freaks. Anti-social, hyperactive, unkempt, neurotic, mental wreaks.

Moreover, they are such incredible freaks that they are incapable of having sex on their thirteenth birthday. They want to because who doesn’t, right? According to this novel, everybody does and supports children in doing it.

The homeschooled girls’ extreme jealousy over the joys of 13-year-old sex turns them into murderous fiends. Seriously, there’s a graphic description of a 13-year-old girl having sex, and it’s depicted as the most wonderful, “empowering” thing imaginable.

Another part of the novel’s message is that women should never work because it’s terribly degrading and turns them into horrible mothers. Instead, they should accept absolutely any indignity from men – pedophilia, violent lunacy, infidelity – because otherwise they won’t have nice houses to live in.

So it’s half ultra-liberal, half ultra-conservative, and both halves very disturbing.

I’m so fascinated by all this that I’m now going to read another book by this author to try to understand if this novel is a fluke or part of a coherent worldview. I read a lot of this mommy lit stuff but I’ve never seen the genre go in this truly creepy direction.

Be very careful what you pick up at the airport.

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