Bud, seed, weed, dope, marijuana, or cannabis, no matter what you call it, there has become a raging argument about the merits of this drug and its abilities to help heal and its qualities of reducing the after effects of the drugs used for diseases such as cancer. Everyone has an opinion and even the law is divided on what is right. Medical marijuana is certainly becoming more of a mainstream topic.
In Betty’s (Little Basement) Garden by Laurel Dewey, we are invited into the world of this drug sensation in a strange and slightly bizarre, yet idealistic way. Betty Craven is a 58-year old woman who is known for her ability to create perfection; whether it is her prize flowers, or her fabulous chocolates, she excels in what she chooses. Little do her friends understand the real life that Betty is living. Having her only child die in a horrible way, and then losing her husband, she finally finds herself free from a hell she could not seem to escape. As do many new widows, she tries to move forward but does not understand how. Buying into her own hype, she spends everything she has and more to build a business she can be proud of. When the economy falls on hard times she finds she is in way over her head. Yet in her pride she must keep up appearances. Even her closest friends do not realize the problems she is beginning to face. The lack of money is bad enough, but she is also beginning to see and experience things that make no sense. She is feeling so much guilt over her son’s death, she finds herself talking to him frequently.
Her son was always sensitive and artistic; he saw things as they were meant to be. Her husband was cruel to him because of what he thought were his “pansy” ways, and belittled him at every turn. Part of Betty’s pain stemmed from the feeling that she experienced of letting him down. She always thought she should stand up to her husband but she did not know how. She only knew how to be the perfect housewife, one who did not talk back or create waves. When she meets another young man who looks very much like her son before he died, her life changes in ways she could never imagine. This young man is the nemesis of everything she believes in and is part of the cannabis growing community. She is disturbed by his antics and decides she must be the one to help set him straight. She has no idea what changes her life will take as she begins to shake the mantel of respectability, and really begins to live again.
Betty’s (Little Basement) Garden is a wonderful novel full of characters we see every day. There is more to the work than the usual change of life and the growth of change. There is friendship and hope, new love and forgiveness. The pain of discovery and the brittle house of cards that often hide the real needs of those in danger begin to shift through a veil that begins as opaque and slowly changes hue to a clear and shining purpose.
Regardless of your belief system, there is a great deal of information about the growers of medical marijuana and the difficulties that creates, and it takes you into the back streets of the illegal growers with their need to break the rules that protect those that are in the business to help others. Both facets do not trust the other and yet their lives intersect in many ways. There is a form of reliance that must be cultivated to continue to produce the crops, and the knowledge of each form of plant.
I really enjoyed Betty’s (Little Basement) Garden and found it hard to put down. The story behind the title is deep and abiding, full of feeling and depth. Betty is the quintessential woman coming from a family that could only relate to perfection, and she has a difficult time letting go.
This would be an excellent book for a reading group or a book club. There is life and laughter, love and friendships, and a spark of the paranormal that brings it all together. This is a change of the usual Dewey story but she does not disappoint. Her characters maintain their charisma and charm and draw you in. Take a chance and delve into this work, it is interesting and unique, full of a new and yet old fashioned type of charm.