Other Thoughts

Thoughtworthy (Car Renting, Review of The Night Gardener, and MORE!)

April 19, 2019 by Brandy Vencel

:: 1 ::

When Daughter Q. and I were traveling to and fro in Nashville for AO Camp and more, we needed to rent a car. I looked at the prices from a rental company and experienced a bit of sticker shock. This trip was already so expensive!

But then … someone told my husband about Turo. He described it as “Airbnb for cars.” I thought I’d try it — the car I was able to get was roomier than the cheapest one from the rental company at the airport, plus it was a hybrid, so the MPG was amazing. Oh. And it was cheaper by $50-$100 compared to what I would have paid doing a traditional rental.

It went great. The owner personally dropped off and picked up the car. The car was clean and in decent condition — plus it had built-in GPS, which came in handy when I didn’t know where I was (no smart phone, remember). I could communicate with the owner via an app on my iPod. It was all very handy while traveling.

Anyhow, I thought I’d mention it in case you’re traveling and having trouble finding a car that meets your needs. Maybe Turo would help? If you decide to try it, I invite you to use my referral link. 😉

:: 2 ::

We finished The Night Gardener yesterday. WOW. Another two thumbs up for Jonathan Auxier, though admittedly this is for bigger kids — the book is scary. Not that it gave me nightmares, but I’m sure it’d terrify a six-year-old.

So.

** spoiler alert **

I’m not telling you the ending, but still … understanding the tree and the Gardener is a pretty big part of the book, so if you don’t want me to ruin it for you, scroll on.

Long story short, there is a tree that grants wishes — or gives gifts, however you want to put it — in exchange for a drop of your soul. The Windsor family lives in a house built around the tree. The receive their gifts during the day. At night, the Gardener comes and collects payment — shimmering drops of their souls — with which he waters and sustains the tree.

There’s more to it than that, but this is all you really need to know for me to explain why I am in love with the book.

Each person in the family receives only one type of wish. For the father, it is money. For the son, it is candy. It becomes evident as the story goes on that these gifts tap into a longing deep in the soul. And herein lies my affection, for don’t we all have one or two things we are attracted to or long for — and what’s the big deal? All you have to pay is a drop of your soul.

The author obviously understands the human condition and the attraction every person has to idolatry. If I could describe the book in a sentence, I’d call it a version of Faust for children because at the end of the day it’s a deal with the devil each character in the book has made, even if the devil is gussied up as an evil tree and his haunting Gardener.

I think it’d be handy to have this image in common as a family as we move forward and deal with the temptations of the teen years. The gathering of the soul water and using it to grow an evil tree will definitely stay with me.

:: 3 ::

O-Age-Ten has been hounding me to use The Mysterious Benedict Society as our next read aloud selection. I decided to acquiesce, mainly because I planned to read it sometime in the future and why not indulge his newfound affection for this series while it’s hot?

We’ve read one chapter. Already, I totally get why he likes it. I’ll write a review once we’re done. This one will take a while, though, as it’s over 500 pages.

:: 4 ::

This month in 2016:

Mmmm … that’s right! I started Awakening Wonder back then. I forgot. It was good. How is it possible it’s been so many years? I never did win that argument with my husband.

:: 5 ::

This week’s links collection:

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2 Comments

  • Reply The Official 2019 Afterthoughts Read Aloud List | Afterthoughts January 8, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    […] I wrote quite a bit about it here, if you’d like to hear more. […]

  • Reply JM June 4, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    Just out of curiosity, is the front cover of your copy of The Night Gardener cut narrower than the actual book? I have a couple of Auxier’s other books and the covers aren’t short on those but both copies Amazon has sent of TNG has the narrow cover. I’m trying to figure out if it’s a defect because it causes the cover to curl.

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