Season of Secrets


Molly and Hannah are living with their grandparents above their Northumberland village shop. It seems their father is at a loss and unable to care for the girls following their mother’s sudden death. However, the girls are spinning. While Hannah is furious an out of control, Molly is lost, contemplative and struggling to find her feet.

She takes comfort from the Green Man who discovers her on the night she and Hannah run home. Yet there is no sign of him when she retraces her steps. Who is he and who is chasing him? It seems that from the stories Miss Shelley tells, that it’s the Holly King, with his hounds. What does it all mean?

As Molly struggles to make sense of her life, of Dad’s absence, of Hannah’s rage and her new circumstances, she reflects on her mother, too. Meanwhile, the year shuts down and the Green Man struggles. Could the bluebell he gifts her be a sign?

Season of Secrets is a glorious novel of grief, loss, death, rebirth and hope. It is recommended highly for emotionally mature middle grade readers.

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Season of Secrets

Sally Nicholls

(Andersen Press)

Molly and Hannah live in their grandparents’ home above the shop. It’s supposed to be until Dad sorts himself out,  for Dad is struggling. However Molly and Hannah are struggling too. After all, they’ve  a new school, new regime, Dad’s absence and the sudden death of their mother. While Hannah behaves aggressively, causing upheaval and uncertainty for all about her, Molly is lost in a land of stories.
It seems Miss Shelley’s stories of the seasons resonate strongly for Molly. What’s more, her experiences of the natural world about her new Northumberland home, strikes a chord with the ancient tales she learns. After all, who is the Green Man whose flight from the Holly King collides with Molly on the night she and Hannah run away? Then again, why can she find him in the garage, when he’s invisible to Hannah? What’s more, how can she stop his ageing and tiring? it seems that the Green Man is magical, real, impossible but then a support and distraction with his sudden flowers, when Molly crumbles.
Sally Nicholls creates an allegorical story of loss, rebirth, grief and hope in a Season of Secrets. Rather as the year turns, Molly reflects, contemplates, watches and grieves. Like the natural world discovered by The Girl Who Talked to Trees, Molly finds solace and meaning. Sally Nicholls offers a mighty, lingering and glorious middle grade novel for emotionally literate readers in Season of Secrets.


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