“Karuna Riazi has a way with words. This story will find its way into your heart.”—Tae Keller, Newbery Medalist for When You Trap a Tiger
“As timeless as it is timely, A Bit of Earth is a rare gift.”—Laurel Snyder, author of National Book Award nominee Orphan Island
“Extraordinary, poetic, and inventive. A Bit of Earth is such a special book. Prickles and all, Maria Latif captured my whole heart.”—Jasmine Warga, author of Newbery Honor book Other Words for Home
“An ambitious re-envisioning of a long beloved classic, this book is sure to be a big hit.”—Padma Venkatraman, award-winning author of The Bridge Home
“Beautiful! Simply beautiful! My heart needed this!”—Ellen Oh, author of Finding Junie Kim
“A sweet and warm-hearted tale with unforgettable characters.”—Aisha Saeed, bestselling author of Amal Unbound
Maria Latif is used to not having a space of her own. But what happens when she feels the sudden urge to put down roots in the most unexpected of places? Karuna Riazi crafts a tender coming-of-age story about friendship, family, and new beginnings. A Bit of Earth is a reimagining of the classic The Secret Garden, perfect for fans of Other Words for Home and The Bridge Home.
Growing up in Pakistan, Maria Latif has been bounced between reluctant relatives for as long as she can remember—first because of her parents’ constant travel, and then because of their deaths. Maria has always been a difficult child, and it never takes long for her guardians to tire of her. So when old friends of her parents offer to “give her a better life” in the United States, Maria is shipped to a host family across the world.
When Maria arrives on Long Island, things are not quite what she was expecting. Mr. Clayborne has left on an extended business trip, Mrs. Clayborne seems emotionally fraught, and inexplicable things keep happening in the Claybornes’ sprawling house. And then Maria finds a locked gate to an off-limits garden. Since she’s never been good at following rules, Maria decides to investigate and discovers something she never thought she’d find: a place where she feels at home.
With a prickly main character, a sullen boy, two friendly allies, and a locked garden, A Bit of Earth has everything a reader could want from a retelling of The Secret Garden. Karuna Riazi’s evocative prose is interspersed with poetic verses, illuminating each character’s search for a place they can truly call home. This tender yet incisive reimagining of a classic work will captivate fans of the original—and widen the appeal for a modern audience.
Karuna Riazi is the author of the acclaimed A Bit of Earth as well as the duology The Gauntlet and The Battle. She holds a BA in English literature from Hofstra University and an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Hamline University. She is an online diversity advocate and an educator, and her work has been featured in Entertainment Weekly, Shondaland, and Teen Vogue, among others. A born-and-raised New Yorker, Karuna Riazi lives on Long Island.
“Karuna Riazi has a way with words. In this deft reimagining of The Secret Garden, she blends lyrical prose and poetry, crafts a heartfelt plot, and develops characters you want to root for. This story will find its way into your heart.” — Tae Keller, winner of the Newbery Medal for When You Trap a Tiger
"Extraordinary, poetic, and inventive. A Bit of Earth is such a special book. Prickles and all, Maria Latif captured my whole heart." — Jasmine Warga, author of Newbery Honor book Other Words for Home
“An ambitious re-envisioning of a long beloved classic, this book is sure to be a big hit.” — Padma Venkatraman, award winning author of The Bridge Home
“Riazi has not just reimagined The Secret Garden. In a delicate blend of poetry and prose, she's also crafted a wide-open window into the heart of every 'unlikable' child who ever lived. I recognized the main character immediately--adrift and hardened, messy and hurt and realer than real--and loved her on every page of this book. As timeless as it is timely, A Bit of Earth is a rare gift.” — Laurel Snyder, author of National Book Award nominee Orphan Island
“A Bit of Earth embodies its titles perfectly. Here is a book that offers a place for readers to bury their fears into and see what beauty unfurls from the space. Riazi's prose is concise and lyrical, and Maria Latif is the prickly bud that astounds everyone when she's finally given the opportunity to bloom." — Roshani Chokshi, New York Times–bestselling of Aru Shah and the End of Time
“Beautiful! Simply beautiful! My heart needed this gorgeous and modern re-imagining of The Secret Garden!" — Ellen Oh, author of Finding Junie Kim
“A sweet and warm-hearted tale with unforgettable characters.” — Aisha Saeed, bestselling author of Amal Unbound
“Karuna Riazi has taken the seeds of an old story and produced something moving, exquisite, and thoroughly new. Readers will root for Maria, whose spirit is both fiery and tender; she leapt off the page and into my heart. Quietly magical and powerfully real, A Bit of Earth gorgeously captures the uncertainty and delight of coming of age—new friendships, the longing to fit in and find family, and the richness of recognizing all the possibilities for a full and rich life. A soul-filling treasure!” — Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, author of Operation Sisterhood
“A contemporary re-envisioning of The Secret Garden . . . Found family is a central theme as Maria struggles to find a place she can truly call home. . . . Her Desi identity is represented authentically via foods, scents, clothing/dupatta, prayers, and mehndi, and the . . . hybrid prose/verse format provides a narrative that feels genuine, raw, and allows readers into the minds of the characters. . . . Destined to be a new classic, this refreshing of the canon is long overdue.” — School Library Journal (starred review)
“A contemporary, multicultural rendition of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic novel, The Secret Garden. . . .Riazi flavors her rendition with heavy doses of cultural references, nostalgic trappings of the people and practices that Maria left behind and then learns anew in the Bangladeshi diaspora on Long Island. . . . A nice difference from The Secret Garden is the presence of a larger sense of community and adults who are held accountable for their actions. Mary had Colin and Ben (and the robin), but Maria gains quite a gaggle of friends and family.” — Booklist
“Roots, both tangible and intangible, come together in this coming-of-age story. . . . This retelling of The Secret Garden offers an interesting twist on the classic’s colonial, racist tone. It opens with promise as the evocative text highlights Maria’s grief, isolation, and resignation at being cast adrift. Each character has their own story arc that is explored even as Maria finds ways of becoming her own person. . . . This book tackling hefty themes will grow on readers.” — Kirkus Reviews
“A foreboding feeling permeates this mystery-driven novel, a The Secret Garden retelling. . . . Chapters alternate experiential free-verse poetry with a third-person narrative as Maria excavates the garden’s past and her own isolation in this thoughtful, emotionally honest take on the source material.” — Publishers Weekly