Among other activities this Spring, I spent my reading time rambling between several books. I often find myself with several books open, picking up each one as my mood directs me, reading one of them tonight and another tomorrow, only to come back to the first a week later. It drives Mrs. ProfessorRoush slightly more nuts, dusting around 3-5 books that are open or bookmarked at any given time. Would anyone else like to admit here a similar reading habit?
This weekend, I finally managed to finish Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening, written by Mrs. Carol Wall and published early in 2014. Mrs. Wall was a high School English teacher in Tennessee and Virginia who previously wrote features in Southern Living Magazine and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and she writes as beautifully as you would expect. I picked up the book with the expectation that it would be a nice essay about gardening and friendships, but if you are looking to learn much about Mister Owita's green thumb from it, you will be sorely disappointed.
Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening is, in fact, two related tales, one of a friendship and a mentor-student relationship developed between two gardeners, and the other a very human tale of hope, longing and loss. Mr. Owita, the declared subject of the story is a local immigrant who becomes Mrs. Wall's gardening advisor, and later her confidant and friend. The story is not really about the garden they create, but about their support for each other during the trials of each life.
Spoiler alert; Mrs. Wall was a breast cancer survivor, who relapses during the book. Part of the story focuses on her worries and thoughts as she faces more illness and treatments. Early in the story, Mister Owita is concerned about a daughter left behind in an unstable country. Later on his own terminal illness is revealed. Mister Owita dies near the end of the book. In fact, I learned while writing this that Mrs. Wall also passed on December 14, 2014, 9 months after the book was published. I'm sorry for the lost to both families, but I think you understand what I mean if I say that I didn't feel very uplifted after reading this book.
If you're wanting a profoundly moving book, and if you can stand a bit of a downer of an ending, Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening is a good, easy read. If you're looking for garden or plant information, or if you need or expect an uplifting story about survival in the face of cancer or HIV, then don't make this book one of the many you may already be reading.