If you were ever interested in children's literature, you most likely read Harriet the Spy. If you did not, it is a weird and great book about a girl named Harriet who lives in New York City under the watchful eye of her nanny, Ole Golly, and goes around spying on her neighbors and classmates and writing about it in her spy notebook. Some stuff happens. You should read it.
AND THEN. Then you should read this follow-up that I never even knew about until my delightful friend Jenny casually mentioned it the other day. The Long Secret is about Harriet and her friend Beth Ellen on vacation in a town near Montauk, New York, where both their families have summer homes.
|Like this dog, they are doing quite well for themselves.|
THE LONG SECRET IS MAYBE BETTER THAN HARRIET THE SPY. But this is possibly because I'm reading it as an adult and more aware when Louise Fitzhugh is Doing Something Very Good in her book, as opposed to when I was a kid and thought the Animorphs series was pretty hot shit.
|I mean....maybe I wasn't wrong.|
Essentially, someone in town is leaving notes with very pointed Bible verses for particular people to find. As Harriet is, of course, a spy, she decides to unravel this mystery. But also! Also Beth Ellen is being raised by her grandmother and then her very absent socialite mother decides to come back and there are feelings and things to deal with and discussions of religion and oh, it is all excellent.
Harriet is a secondary character, but still very much herself.
"How can you be twelve when I'm only eleven?" Harriet looked furious.
"I don't know what's so bad about space," said Harriet. "I'd like to go to the moon. I'd rather go to Mars, actually. I can't wait to see what those other people look like."
"Suppose there aren't any?" said Beth Ellen, feeling lonelier than ever.
"Of course there are," said Harriet. "There're people on every planet, I'm convinced of it. They may look like shoe trees or something, but they're there."
Louise Fitzhugh was a weird bird. By which I mean you should read her Wikipedia page. Wikipedia doesn't mention that she was gay, but hey, it's Pride Month, so let's also link to this NPR story.
It's short. It's funny. It's good. We should probably talk about it more. Let's all read more Louise Fitzhugh.