Book Reviews: Autobiographies & Biographies
Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening
Read by Tracy in 2015
The Blurb: Carol Wall, a white woman living in a lily-white neighborhood in Middle America, was at a crossroads in her life. Her children were grown; she had successfully overcome illness; her beloved parents were getting older. One day she notices a dark-skinned African man tending her neighbors yard. His name is Giles Owita. He bags groceries at the supermarket. He comes from Kenya. And he's very good at gardening. Before long Giles is transforming not only Carol's yard, but her life. Though they are seemingly quite different, a caring bond grows between them. But they both hold long-buried secrets that, when revealed, will cement their friendship forever.
The Reality: I love gardening, I think the experience of being outside in the fresh air, with the sun overhead is a joy. Our whole back garden is edible and we try to grow as much as possible for our daily lives, so this story appealed to me. Taking a neglected and overgrown garden and turning it into something that is sustaining and brings peace. Carol Wall hires the gardener of her neighbour who promptly ignores her wants, instead he sets about slowly transforming the garden. Mr Owita comes from Kenya, and even though he holds a doctorate, seems only able to get a job packing bags in the supermarket or gardening. However, he doesn't seem to hold this against anybody, instead quietly going about his life. On the opposite side is Ms Wall, who I got the impression blamed everyone and everything for her life and the fact that she has so much! However, I did feel Mr Owita brushed off on her and she started to change, realising (as she kept telling people) she was prejudiced and she could be contented with so much less. It was an interesting read, I would have liked more about Mr Owita's own gardening or nature experiences in Kenya, for example growing food etc. Still it is a good step forward when somebody realises they are racist and attempts to rectify their views of the world.
I received a copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Carol Wall has a website.