Laura Amy Schlitz
Publication month: September 2015
Review by Wisteria©
The heroine of this coming of age novel is a feisty, headstrong, inherently impulsive powerhouse-a memorable character destined to be a classic. The Hired Girl, set in the year 1911 on a Pennsylvania farm is historical fiction. However, the author has a storyteller's magical gift to transport the readers into the mind of Joan Scraggs and her experiences through her daily diary. Joan, fourteen, lives with her three brothers and evil tempered father. After her mom dies, Joan is forced to assume her mom's arduous chores, exhaustive and thankless. She seeks solace in her passion for reading. The few books she owns have been read again and again. Her father is determined to end her educational goals and the close relationship she has with her favorite teacher. Joan is very quick witted and eager to learn. Yet, when her teacher tries to persuade her father that Joan should stay in school she is rebuked. Later, her father spews words of vitreous hatred at his daughter. Sadly, it just confirms what she has felt all along. Unloved and shackled to a hard life on the farm she makes plans to flee. As hateful as her father is, she recalls her mom's love and support. Fortunately, her mother left a rainy day treasure in the ruffles of her favorite doll. With her mother's gift and and timely luck Joan secures a job as the hired girl, with a Jewish family. Although she leads her employers to believe she is eighteen, assumes the name Janet, she settles into this new life. It is through her diary that the reader will come to empathize and love Janet (Joan). Her struggles with her own faith, love, women's roles, Anti-semitism and the social class prejudice prevalent are believable. The author captures not only the flavor of this period in history, but she allows the reader to experience Joan's her inner most thoughts, as only a diary will allow. Laura Amy Schlitz is a gifted storyteller, one of my favorite young adult/tween writers. This one is now on my list to be order for my school's media center. The Hired Girl, with multiple themes and character study possibilities, is the perfect novel for classroom libraries, literature study and read aloud. Yet it will stand out as a well loved free choice read for young and adult readers. Highly recommended. ~Wisteria Leigh
Disclosure: An uncorrected proof was sent to me with a request for an unbiased review. This review is my honest opinion.
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