Carol Wall and her husband Dick never enhanced their yard. There were not any flowers, the grass was patchy, and the shrubs and trees looked weary, in need of pruning and rejuvenation. The couple was too busy to deal with yard issues beyond mowing, and Carol was opposed to flowers. Carol was sure their yard was an eye-sore to their neighbors, who had beautiful yards. Neighbor Sarah Driscoll was even a Master Gardener. Why did Sarah have a new man working in her yard?
This new man became an object of interest to Carol, a teacher who had taught English as a foreign language. She saw also him bagging groceries at the local supermarket and helping people load their plants at the parking lot of the local garden center. Unlike most hourly low-skill workers, he seemed to attract the attention and high regard from the customers. He spoke in an oddly charming way. Was he an immigrant?
In Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart, the author tells about her friendship with Giles Owita and his wife Bienta who immigrated from Kenya with their two sons to attend colleges in the United States. While gardening is a continuing theme in their recounted conversations, it is not really the focus of this book. Instead, self-discovery, overcoming self-imposed limits, and leading a full life prevail. There is also a mystery for the author to solve.
Ironically, most libraries have Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening in their gardening sections. Bonnie, who is also a librarian, told me that she thinks there is not really any better place in Dewey for this hard-to-categorize book. Being about non-famous people, it would be lost in biography. It could be placed with friendship books, but who ever goes to the library for a friendship book? Maybe we need shelves just labelled "Good Reading." It should be there. Check it out.
Wall, Carol. Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart. Amy Einhorn Books, 2014. 294p. ISBN 9780399157981.