Oh, you guys! I absolutely LOVED LOVED LOVED this book! The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Rebecca Strange was one of the best chapter books I’ve read in a long time. I found myself thinking about the novel while I was at school and while I was driving and during all of those times that I was so busy parenting yet all I wanted was to climb into my bed to get back to Henrietta and her story. It is absolutely no wonder that this was one of Amazon editors’ top chapter book picks of 2017. In short – it was fabulous.
In The Secret of Nightingale Wood, Henrietta (AKA “Henry”) and her family have just begun to settle into their new home at Hope House, but shortly after they arrive her father must leave and go abroad. To make matters worse, her beloved brother, Robert, has recently died, her mother is suffering from a debilitating mental illness, and their devoted Nanny Jane is doing everything the doctors tell her to take care of Mama, even if it means keeping Mama locked in a room and giving her medicine that keeps her sedated. Henry is distraught – but when she wanders into the adjacent Nightingale Wood one evening, she may just meet something — or someone — who will help her find the courage to change the lives of those she holds closest to her heart.
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Considering the current state of our country and the battle raging around mental illness, The Secret of Nightingale Wood was an especially fascinating read when considering how such illness was treated and viewed in the early 1900s. I was captivated by Henry’s insight and maturity, as well as her recognition that the doctors treating her mother were getting it all wrong. Even more haunting was Henry’s own emotional state, and her constant agonizing over whether she, too, was actually going crazy — or just looked upon as such. What a beautiful story this was — I can’t stress it enough. The characters are nuanced and real, their struggles are relatable, and the setting feels just ghostly enough to make its almost tangible beauty both mysterious and intriguing. A must read for your upper elementary kids and students. I could not put it down!
Want the book? Get it here! The Secret of Nightingale Wood, by Lucy Strange. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received an advanced review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions contained herein are expressly our own.