Tuesday, August 8, 2017

"Samantha's Secret Room" by Lyn Cook

When I was about 10 or 11 years old, in the early 1970s, I read a book (first published in 1963) called "Samantha's Secret Room" by Lyn Cook.  It was a favourite of mine, for many reasons:  the heroine was about the same age I was, she feels lonely and misunderstood (as I often did). And it was set in Canada.

The plot: Samantha lives with her parents, brothers & great-grandmother in a big old house near Penetanguishine, Ontario, on Lake Huron's Georgian Bay.  There's a secret cellar where Samantha goes to write in her diary and vent her frustrations. But changes are coming for Samantha & her family: first, there's Samantha's new friend Kim, who answers a note that Sam ties to a shipment of Christmas trees bound for the cities further south.  Then there's older cousin Josh, an archaeology student who forms a bond with Samantha during a visit, and connects her to the history that's all around her -- including within her own family. The story culminates with a family reunion to celebrate Great-Gran's 90th birthday, and some important revelations that bring Samantha & her family closer together.

I loved this book & have thought about it on & off over the years. Samantha was one of the names we seriously considered for a baby girl -- Daughter #2 (or #3), of course, because Katie was our #1 choice for a girl's name right from the start...!

And then one of dh's cousins' wives had a little girl (in her 40s, after more than 10 years of marriage and much speculation in the family... hmmm...) -- and named her Samantha.

I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to give this little Samantha for her first birthday. :) (Believe me, I always wished there was a book with "Lori" in the title,  lol.)  I did an online search, and (yay!) a paperback version of "Samantha's Secret Room" was available on good old Amazon. :)  I knew she wouldn't be old enough to read it for many years, but that was OK.  I ordered two copies (one for her, one for me ;)  )  wrote an inscription on the inside front cover, wrapped it up and gave it to her for her first birthday.

We don't see a lot of Samantha & her brother -- she's about 10 now herself -- and I'd kind of forgotten about the book. And then, out of the blue last week, I got an email from her mom. (She & I have always gotten along well -- perhaps because of the unspoken bond we know we share...!) (Even though she was ultimately successful in having a family, and I was not.)  She wrote:
I just wanted to tell you.  When I picked up the kids from camp today - Samantha mentioned that she started a new book and she held up "Samantha's Secret Room"  - I just smiled because I knew it was from you.  We then read the inscription you had made. 
She does love to read!
Needless to say, that put a huge smile on my face for the rest of the day...!  :)  Being able to share a book that was special to me as a little girl with another little girl -- passing on a little piece of myself into the future -- was so gratifying -- even if it wasn't (as I had once hoped) my own daughter.  Small victories...! :)  


  1. I really enjoyed reading this. I have so many books I saved and wanted to share with my children. I like the idea of sharing books with other kids in my life. It makes me happy that Samantha enjoyed the book you gave her.

  2. That's a sweet story. I'm glad you were able to share the book with her.

  3. This is awesome. What a great connection to have, and I love that now that she's the age you were when you discovered this book, she's reading it. I love Scholastic (both because I loved their books as a kid and I worked there when I lived in NYC), and I love how books bring people together and spark memories! I'm glad this exchange made you smile. What a happiness-making post!