Mandy, a girl whose parents are dead, has lived in an orphange her entire life. Her life is not wholly bad; on the contrary, she has friends, a safe place to live, and is always treated fairly. But something is lacking, something she can’t put her finger on.
Her life changes when she starts taking an interest in the curious, high wall along the back of the orphanage that seperates the orchard grounds from the mysterious forest beyond and what it may be hiding. When Mandy chances to sneak behind it, she is surprised to find a cottage, completely abandoned. Maybe it’s the way the house has been left behind and forgotten just as she has, or maybe the loneliness that she has in common that pushes Mandy to question the way she lives, and finds a longing for something to call her own, and the need to be needed.
First of all, along with Nancy and Plum, I was given this book when I was maybe nine or ten. Unlike Nancy and Plum, I read it right away and fell in love with it! It awoke a lot of different ideas and dreams in me that gave me something to think about outside of what I normally thought of. If you happen to read someone else’s description of it, you may happen to notice how they always choose to talk more about the house. I am so familiar with the story that some of the lesser themes struck me more than the overall plot.
I know that there are a bazillion other stories about orphans who are in similar situations, but Mandy is particularly special to me because of Julie Andrew’s spectacular story-telling. Her character, Mandy, is very believable. In fact, every time I read it, (which I still do), when it gets to the part in which she is being discovered (don’t worry, it’s inevitable), I yell “No! No! You’re spoiling everything!” right along with Mandy. She says exactly what anyone would say, which is what makes her so real.
I think this book really appeals to all ages, boys and girls, but especially the 8-12 range.
Overall Rating: 5/5
Audience: Ages 7 and up.