The Humming Room by Ellen Potter is a middle grade novel about a young girl named Roo. Roo has had a hard life which has caused her to become introverted, tuning into nature more so than people. She is alone too, until her mysterious uncle claims her. Living with her uncle is an unusual situation. He shows signs of indifference, kindness, and maybe even madness. Her uncle’s house is also unusual. She is isolated on an island living in a former children’s hospital. Her life continues to be out of the ordinary when she meets a river boy, discovers a hidden garden, and learns that she is not as alone on the island as she thought.
Based on The Secret Garden, this modern update is intriguing. I wanted to know more about Roo, the garden, and all of the other mysteries. In fact I would have enjoyed a longer book with more background and details. That being said, author Potter kept me reading without making the book too ‘strange’. I liked the bits about the lore of the river and enjoyed meeting Jack on the river. I just didn’t connect with some of the colder characters. I wanted to feel sorry for them, but didn’t have enough invested in their background and story. I also agree with many critics who have said that the story does end a bit abruptly, tying up all of the loose ends but not satisfying reader’s curiosities when it comes to all the characters.
I hope MG readers will enjoy this story about a girl who is a bit of an outcast. Recommended for MG readers and readers who like classic books and The Secret Garden.