Eleven-year-old Maggie Campbell and Susan, her mother, have come to Susan's childhood home to be with Maggie's dying grandmother in her final days. Maggie has never known this cantankerous grandmother, who is never seen in the play but still exerts a powerful effect on everyone in it. Maggie resents having to cancel her summer plans to accompany her mother and, as the play opens, Maggie has climbed a tree in her grandmother's long-unkempt garden and settled into what she thinks will be an unyielding sulk to spite her mother for the inconvenience. But into the garden come Allison and Brianna: one, a funny, warm and insightful Hospice worker; the other, an imaginative nine-year-old neighbor who hates unhappy endings and never lets the facts stand in the way of a good story, not even her rollicking rendition of Oscar Wilde's fairy tale about "The Selfish Giant"—a frightening and forbidding character who reminds her of Maggie's grandmother. Eventually, Allison and Brianna help unravel Maggie's bad mood, and mother/daughter rifts are mended. As summer draws to a close, the expected death occurs, and, to Brianna's dismay, Maggie and Susan prepare to return home. Unhappy endings can't always be avoided, but understanding, forgiveness and friendship do eventually blossom like the roses in this garden of the "selfish giant."
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