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Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart
304 pages; Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
With her children grown and out of the house, Carol Wall is obsessed—perhaps overly so—with ripping out her azaleas. That is, until she meets a certain Giles Owita, a Kenyan gardener, supermarket bagger, general-life philosopher and perhaps one of the most refined and gracious characters to ever hit the page (except that he’s real). Take, for example, his view on Wall’s terrifically protective dog. “Your little beagle peered out at me with happy barks of warning from his window by the door,” he writes in a note. “You are fortunate to have his services.” Soon, Owita is teaching Wall not only how to take care of her yard, but how to listen, most especially to her aging parents. A warning for the shy: The basic goodness of Owita’s attitude may cause you to beam spontaneously as you read, leading to odd looks from strangers at the coffee shop.
— Leigh Newman