Harriet the Spy

Harriet performs her onion dance

Tonight I read Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (had to look that up, I was looking at the tiiiny cover on my ipod and thought her last name was Pittsburgh) which was the source of my childhood fixation on tomato sandwiches. I’m also realizing I must have read the sequels, because there was a scene I clearly remembered involving goat cheese that did not, in fact, happen in this book.

Harriet wants to be a spy, so she keeps a dossier on everyone. Everyone. Unfortunately, Harriet doesn’t have very nice things to say to people and the inevitable happens.

When I read this the first time, I was eleven which is Harriet’s age, so her behaviour seemed perfectly natural. Now that I’m an adult with an eleven year old stepbrother, I see how accurate Harriet’s behaviour was. Running around, screaming when talking for no reason, not understanding how feelings work outside her. Don’t let that imply I don’t think my step-brother is totally awesome, but now I see how typical eleven year old Harriet’s attitude was.

A sort of thorny read emotionally, the part that really got me wasn’t even overtly sad, but it was just Harriet dealing with the fallout when things went wrong and her parents trying to help. There was just something about watching a kid suffer, even if the kid wasn’t fully aware they were suffering.

Great book, I can see why I loved it so much as a kid, even if I didn’t take its lesson to heart and had a brief fling with wanting to be a spy. Thank god for short attention spans.

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