Friday, May 20, 2016

Every Day in May: 20




Harriet M. Welsch

from Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

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“ 'Well, I’m going to be a writer. And when I say that’s a mountain, that’s a mountain.' ”

“WHEN SOMEBODY GOES AWAY THERE'S THINGS YOU WANT TO TELL THEM. WHEN SOMEBODY DIES MAYBE THAT'S THE WORST THING. YOU WANT TO TELL THEM THINGS THAT HAPPEN AFTER.”  

"WHEN I GROW UP I'M GOING TO FIND OUT EVERYTHING ABOUT EVERYBODY AND PUT IT ALL IN A BOOK. THE BOOK IS GOING TO BE CALLED SECRETS BY HARRIET M. WELSCH. I WILL ALSO HAVE PHOTOGRAPHS IN IT AND MAYBE SOME MEDICAL CHARTS IF I CAN GET THEM."

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I have to admit that this book always made me uncomfortable as a child, most likely because I would never do the things that Harriet did - spy on people, write mean things about my friends, and fight with my family. (Okay, I liked the spying parts of the book but I was always terrified she would get caught.)

Rereading this as an adult, there's so much I didn't pick up on as a kid about Harriet's loneliness and how strange her family life is - or maybe I'm not rich enough to appreciate that it's normal for some. She learns so much about family and life from the people she spies on because she's not getting it at home. How all of her classmates were a bit dysfunctional. And mostly, how passionately she pursued her writing. She didn't do it because it was a hobby, she did it because she absolutely had to. So I love her for her single-mindedness, her devotion, and her willingness to be absolutely true to herself even when her entire world falls apart. There's growth there too.

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