HEIDI by Johana Spyri

My nine-year-old son was jumping on and off his bed in excitement while I was reading him Heidi; the scene was suspenseful and my son was connecting to the text in an empathetic way. I was amazed and happily surprised that a story about a little girl’s experiences so long ago would create such strong emotions in my tween. This classic is still accessible.

There are many themes in this book (nature as healer, home, wealth and poverty, childhood, aging, and religion, just to name a few) that give depth to the narrative. I particularly loved the magical realism; how bodies are healed with goat’s milk and mountains, and families are formed by a fearless girl who finds magic in prayers. And an old, blind, widow is kept alive with music and rolls and scarves and being remembered. How a cruel act becomes a miracle. There was no end to the happy endings.

Spyri created magic in the everyday life of a little girl who cared deeply for the people around her and found beauty in the Swiss Alps. It reminded me of Anne of Green Gables but with religion as the magic maker.