A Secret Princess, a charming and swoony mashup of Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess and The Secret Garden, reimagines Sara Crewe as a "wealthy, beautiful, intelligent, and unapologetic Filipino girl" in 1860s England.
At the Select Seminary for Young Ladies and Gentlemen, best friends Mary Lennox, Sara Crewe and Cedric Errol try to keep to themselves to (unsuccessfully) avoid the wrath of their headmistress. When news arrives that both Sara's and Mary's parents have died, rendering 15-year-old Sara a penniless orphan forced into servitude to pay off her debts and sending 15-year-old Mary to America to live with an estranged uncle, the trio plan an escape to Paris. Their trip is riddled with errors, and they don't get very far. However, when 16-year-old Cedric shares a revelatory secret, the "outcasts by nature" find themselves guests at Maythem Hall, where not only does a secret garden bloom in winter, but so does romance.
Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz (Jo & Laurie) take the best parts of each classic and seamlessly thread them together, crafting a new story that is splendidly entertaining. In an author's note, de la Cruz discusses her choice to recast Sara Crewe as Filipino--a choice that not only fights stereotypes and allows for much-needed representation, but also gives these classic stories depth. The co-authors juxtapose the bigotry and prejudice that Sara endures with the privilege that both Sara and Mary have been afforded as children of wealthy families, elevating this retelling. An enchanting delight. --Lana Barnes, freelance reviewer and proofreader