Book Review: Mandy

Welcome, book lovers! 

In this post, I discuss a sweet, wholesome book, Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards. If you’d prefer to listen to this review, you can check out the full episode on The Bookmarks ‘n Blankets Podcast on your favorite podcast platform or listen below. (This is a spoiler-free post.)

You can also let me know your thoughts about this book by commenting on my Instagram post here.

Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards

Published: January 1971
Genre: Middle Grade Cozy Contemporary
Format: Paperback
My Rating: Read It
My GR Rating: 4/5 ⭐

Book Synopsis: 

This story is about a 10-year-old girl named Mandy. She’s an orphan but has a dream of finding a place of her own. She escapes over the orphanage wall to explore more of the outside world. During one of her excursions, she discovers a tiny deserted cottage in the woods. All through the seasons of spring, summer, and fall, Mandy works on the cottage, attempting to make it her own safe haven. At times, she “borrows” things she needs from the orphanage, and at other times, she relies on telling lies to keep her secret safe. But then, one stormy night at the cottage, Mandy gets sick, and no one knows where she is, except a special friend she didn’t know she even had.

Overall Opinion: 

When I heard about this book, I had no idea that Julie Andrews wrote books. I thought she was just a legendary actress. But come to find out, this was the first of many books that she has written. I learned about this book when I saw one of the BookTubers that I follow talk about this book, and I became curious. At the time, I had been reading a lot of fantasy books, so to switch gears to a contemporary middle grade read, it sounded really refreshing. It also went with my monthly theme of spring vibes and cottagcore. In fact, you can’t get much more cottagecore than this book, so it fits perfectly. I absolutely adored this story and was pleasantly surprised that I did because honestly, I didn’t have high expectations going into it.

Book Details:

  • Length – I read the paperback version, and this story is 305 pages. I read it rather quickly. It took me about three days to get through it, but if you’re a fast reader, you could easily read it in one or two days. 
  • Writing Style – It’s a very easy read, probably because it’s a middle grade book. But the writing is very immersive, descriptive, and lyrical. Honestly, I was quite surprised by how good an author Julie Andrews is. It was very well-written. I also thought the pacing was done well. I never got bored, and wanted to know what would happen next to Mandy. 
  • Cover Art – You can find a picture of the book on my IG. I thought the cover was pretty. It definitely gave me warm spring vibes, but honestly, I wasn’t a fan of the illustration style. Usually, I don’t like illustrations like that. It was just okay for me. But I really did enjoy the illustrations inside the book to help tell the story. 

What I Didn’t Like About It:

  • At times, it was a little slow and I wished a bit more happened. I never got bored, but there were some slower areas. 
  • Mandy has a roommate, Sue, and I don’t think she treats her very well at times. She treats her almost like an annoying little sister when Sue is just trying to be her friend and look out for her. It just shows the immaturity of a 10-year-old. 
  • In order to keep the cottage a secret, Mandy resorts to lying and stealing, which isn’t the best message to send to kids. I understand that this is done out of fear – Mandy is afraid that if anyone finds out about her cottage and what she’s been doing, she won’t be allowed to go there anymore, or others will want to go with her. She doesn’t want to share her special place with anyone else or have it taken away from her. However, the lies she tells, the sneaking out of the orphanage that she does, and the items she steals for her little house are not the best decisions that she makes. She acts in a selfish manner at times. I could see children reading this book and being afraid for Mandy that she may get into trouble. Or kids thinking that it’s okay to lie and steal. 
  • The ending was predictable. I was okay with it, but some readers may not like the predictable ending. 

What I Liked About It:

  • I really enjoyed the nostalgia I was getting from reading this book. It conjured up memories of reading (or watching movies) of The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Heidi, and Annie. All of those beloved children stories came to mind as I read this book, and I really enjoyed that. I grew up with those stories, so I enjoyed hints of those classics. 
  • The best thing about this book is Mandy herself. She is such a sweet, resourceful, strong-willed, independent, and clever little girl. You don’t normally get inside the hearts and minds of such young characters, at least not in the middle grade books that I’ve read, but I enjoyed connecting with Mandy on a deeper level. We see that she deals with a lot of big emotions as we read her thoughts and feelings about things. I could connect and sympathize with her on an emotional level, which made me care about her more, which in turn made me enjoy the book more. She does make some questionable decisions, but she’s a child and still learning. I’m not going to fault her for that. I also love how determined and motivated she is to make her dream come true. She’s very persistent in keeping her secret so she can have the home that she’s always wanted. 
  • Many of the other characters were also very likable. One thing that stood out the most was the headmistress or matron of the orphanage. This book breaks the stereotype of cold, stern, neglectful orphanages. This isn’t like Annie, where Miss Hanagan couldn’t care less about the girls she’s supposed to care for and protect. The headmistress in this story is very kind, gentle, and caring, which was refreshing to read. This Home for Girls didn’t seem like a terrible place to live and grow up in. Even the other workers, a maid, a cook, and a gardener, were very likable characters and tried to help Mandy when they could. No one was aggressively mean and nasty to the girls. 
  • Again, I was pleasantly surprised by how well-written this book was. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the garden, flowers, and cottage. It explained some of these things in quite a bit of detail, so if a child reads this, they are learning about plants, flowers, and gardens. It also definitely gave me the spring and summer vibes. The first half of the book takes place during these two warm seasons, and it really came through in the writing. It’s so descriptive with lush prose. I also enjoyed reading in detail how Mandy fixed up the cottage and things she did to make it a special place for herself. We even see her interacting with the wildlife in the woods, which was really sweet.
  • I also enjoyed the slight twist at the end that also made it a happy ending. I won’t spoil what happens but the second half of the book is a bit different than the first half of the book. So the first part may seem boring and slow to some people, but it does pick up and more things happen in the second half, so hang in there if you’re reading this and not sure about it. Or tried to read it in the past but DNF’d it. I would offer to give it another chance.

Why You Should or Shouldn’t Read It:

If you enjoy charming, sweet, wholesome stories about little kids and the adventures that they get themselves into, then I think you’ll like this book. 

If you like middle grade books that are quick reads and easy to follow without being boring, then again, I think you’ll enjoy this one. 

But if you like more fantasy middle grade books, or are not a fan of mundane, slice-of-life contemporary stories, then you may find this book a little dull, slow, and boring, so then you may want to skip it.

Final Thoughts:

As you just heard, I really, really enjoyed reading Mandy by Julie Andrews. I thought the messaging was great, the story was compelling, the characters were likable, there was enough conflict to keep me engaged, and it had a sweet, satisfying ending. I would love to see this made into a movie one day. I think it could be visually stunning if done properly. I highly recommend this book to young girls around this age, 10 years and older, especially for a spring or summer read. I think they would really enjoy it. 

After reading this book, I definitely want to read more of Julie Andrews’ backlist, so I’m excited to put more of her books on my future TBR lists.

If you’re interested in this book, you can purchase it here.

*Please note that I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program and a member of other affiliate programs. I may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made through links in this article.

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