Set in Cleveland, Ohio, a vacant, trashed lot is slowly transformed into a community garden. It starts with one young girl, Kim, planting lima beans to remember her dead father. Then an old Romanian lady, Ana, snooping from her apartment window with binoculars, discovers her little secret and decides to add to it. One by one, 13 people are drawn in to the garden and a sense of community is formed for the neighborhood.
This is a great little gem of a book and not very long, which makes it great for folks to pick up and enjoy in an afternoon. I really liked that the story showed how people, one by one, were drawn into the garden and their various reasons for sticking with it. Some truly enjoy gardening. Some want to grow produce to sell. Others are trying to impress some folks. It was very interesting to see how so many people from different walks of life were drawn into this community garden.
The book shows quite a bit of diversity and doesn’t shy away from having various characters comment on it. Sometimes the characters even have the ethnicity of another character wrong, and that shows how ignorance can keep a community divided up. Yet as the garden grows, these barriers start to break down and people get to know one another better.
The garden doesn’t just affect those people gardening. Other folks join in by strolling by and chatting with the gardeners, or simply enjoying the view of the garden through a window. There’s a social services nurse that comes by a few times a week and takes her charge down to the garden for his enjoyment. Another lady gets the city to come by and remove the piled up trash that used to be part of the derelict lot. The garden brings the community together in many ways. Indeed, this is a little feel-good book.
I won a copy of this book from Blackstone Audio with no obligation for a review.
The Narration: The audio production for this book was great. There was a full cast of narrators to carry out this book. Of course, I loved Barbara Rosenblat’s performance of the grumpy, suspicious Romanian Ana. Hue Edwards did a great job as young Kim with the lima beans, who kicked off the entire community garden thing. Stephanie Diaz was great as a sassy, snotty pregnant teen. Earl Alexander made a great young stud trying to impress the love of his life by growing tomatoes. Michelle Blackman made a very practical Leona. I really liked Nicholas Luksic’s performance as young Gonzalo who learned so much from his grandfather about plants.
Characters and their narrators (please note I couldn’t find a list anywhere and so I listened to the end of the second disc – I apologize for any name misspellings): Sae Young (performed by Sunni Hit), Kim (performed by Hue Edwards), Ana (performed by Barbara Rosenblat), Sam (performed by Michael Rafkin), Maricela (performed by Stephanie Diaz), Curtis (performed by Earl Alexander), Nora (performed by Sandra Squire), Gonzalo (performed by Nicholas Luksic), Amir (performed by Norian Ahrash), Wendell (performed by Robert Hit), Virgil (performed by Russ Lamore), Florence (performed by Michelle Blackman), and Leona (performed by Michelle Blackman).