Sunday, January 24, 2016

Schlitz, Laura Amy. The Hired Girl.

Schlitz, Laura Amy.  The Hired Girl.  Candlewick Press      2015  392p  $17.99  ISBN 978-0-7636-7818-0  ms/hs  Historical fiction     E-BN       

In this excellent historical story, Joan is a 14-year-old girl who works on her father’s farm and is treated cruelly by him and her three brothers.  Being a headstrong and intelligent girl, she takes the first opportunity to run away from home and get to Baltimore, where she seeks employment in hopes of bettering her chances for continuing her education and becoming a teacher.  Joan’s combination of youthful innocence and strong determination ring true for a 14-year-old living at the time, and the reader is by turns sympathetic, triumphant, and embarrassed on her behalf, as she finds a position in the home of a prominent Jewish businessman and his family and tries to make it work.  The interactions between Joan and the individual members of the Rosenbach family are beautifully written ... each family member, including their elderly maid, is an interesting and unique character, and Joan must learn how to interact with each one in order to keep her position and their respect.  At times she errs egregiously, as when she attempts to convert their grandson to Catholicism, or turns up in one of the son’s bedrooms, soaking wet and promising him her undying love.  The historical details are rich and compelling, and the author has included an endnote on the language as well as some reproductions of artwork from the early 20th century.        Recommended for middle-school and high-school collections, and readers who enjoy historical fiction.

Summary: In 1910, a young girl who has grown up on a Pennsylvania farm runs away from her abusive father and becomes a hired girl for a prominent Jewish family in Baltimore, although she aspires to become a teacher.                 

Servants-Fiction, Golden Age-Fiction                        --Carol Kennedy

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