Mandy, Julie Edwards

Three things you should know about this book before continuing: 

1. Julie Edwards, author of Mandy, is actually Julie Andrews, the beautiful snowflake I have adored ever since I first watched The Sound of Music; I was probably three of four years old. My love for her has never waned. Interestingly enough, I didn’t realize they were one and the same until today, when I glanced at the back cover of the book. 

2. In the first few weeks of my freshman year of college, I met a new friend who remains, to this day, the only other person I’ve ever known to have read this book. Incidentally, she also loved it and we were inseparable for a long time after that discovery.

and 3. If you have ever read this book and felt anything but blissful adoration for it, I don’t want to hear about it. I would like to live out the rest of my life believing that the only people who have ever read it loved it as much as I do. 

I will admit that reading it as an adult was a different experience. I remembered the story quite well (an orphan girl discovers an abandoned cottage in the forest and restores the little house and gardens herself), but I had forgotten how slight a book it is. It’s certainly not the subtlest story, even when taking into account the audience it was written for (elementary aged-children) – not that I expected it to be – but in my mind, it had taken on a legendary quality. Before I reread it, I could recall no flaws. It was iconic and beloved, and I would throw down with anyone claiming otherwise.

Now that I’ve read it more recently, I will probably leave the gauntlet untossed. I can say with certainty that this is not an “everybody ” book. It’s a lovely story for a young reader, and it’s a book that let me live out a lot of important ideas around loneliness and self-reliance when I was a child; I will always cherish it for that reason.

We all have stories like this – the ones that found us when we needed them most. I have different books for different stages of my life, and as I’ve gotten older, I would like to think the quality of my choices has improved, but when it comes right down to it, it doesn’t really matter. Special books are not always brilliant. Brilliant books are not always special. The book that made a difference to me might be, like this, one  you’ve never heard of. You may sleep with a copy of a book I hate by your bed every night. That’s fine. It just serves to illustrate the beauty of having, essentially, an infinite number of books in existence.

We’re all allowed to have our favorites, our guilty pleasures, our cathartic cries. We’re allowed to love badly written books alongside classics. We’re even allowed to love books that no one else cares about, and to get a little choked up when we open the cover and see our names, badly written (and possibly…uh…misspelled) carefully printed in blue ballpoint pen…

10 thoughts on “Mandy, Julie Edwards

  1. I cherished this book in elementary. I found it hidden among the stacks of books in our library and it looked like no one had even paused to pick it up, so I took it. I didn’t know it was Julie Andrews who had written it until after I had finished the book, which only made me love the book more. Julie Andrews has been, and will always be, my idol, and I want to collect everything she’s ever written. This book will always be an important part of my childhood and I can’t wait for the chance to read it to my own children one day — although the experience will be different for me, that’s for sure.

    1. I swear this book saves itself to be read by certain children! I think it hides itself in the shelves until the right person comes along and then nudges itself forward to be loved forever.

  2. Blissful adoration definitely describes how I felt about this book. I can attribute some of my love of reading to this book, which I read when I was young and also needed a place to escape too :) I want to re read it, but sometimes I’m afraid it’ll break that crazy hold it has on my memory by reading it through an adults eyes, you know what I mean? It’s different.

    1. I totally understand. It was a different experience reading it as an adult, but it wasn’t ruined. I think I held my grownup sensibilities a little apart in order to keep it special though.

  3. Thank you for making a “community” out of people who adored this book. No one else I’ve ever known had read it or heard of it. My parents gave it to me for a birthday (9?10?). I remember staying up well past my bedtime to read it with a flashlight. When I finished it, I put it down, turned out the light, snuggled under the covers. and then…well, I sat up, turned the light back on and started it again. It’s the only book I’ve EVER done that with. (Though I reread Dunne’s Geek Love and du Maurier’s Rebecca every year or two.) Time to cue it up for my 8 yo daughter. I HOPE she feels the same blissful adoration….

  4. I loooved this book when I was a kid! I can’t tell you how many times I read it. I also gave a copy of Mandy to my boyfriend’s little sister for her birthday last year (she’s 10), and she loved it as well! I would be afraid of spoiling the magic by re-reading it now, but it will always hold a special place in my heart — and I’m thrilled to pass it along to young readers.

    1. It’s really exciting to find out so many people love this book…and to find out we basically all thought we were the only ones! I’m glad to hear you’re passing the book on and spreading the happiness even more :)

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