Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

Her father treats her like a servant.  He's never loved her because he thinks her birth weakened his wife and resulted in her early death.  Joan gets no solace from her brothers.  If they offer it, they get corrected.  So she works away in the house, on meals, and attempts to replace her mother.  In her free time, she reads.  When her father pulls her out of school at age 14, she attempts to keep learning by reading.  When she asks for the egg money, he burns her books.  That's the last straw...

Candlewick Press and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published September 8th, so you can grab a copy then.

She's seen ads for hired girls in the city in scraps of paper and decides that's what she'll try to do.  She uses the cheap fabric her father allowed to buy for dresses and creates one longer, like a woman would wear.  Then she puts her hair up.  With that and a hat, she's pretty sure she can pass for eighteen because she's a big built girl.  She'll just have to be sure to act as if she's eighteen and not fourteen.

She takes money out of her doll that her mother made her.  She had hidden money in the doll's petticoat and told her to use only when it was necessary.  Once Joan gets on the train, everything is new and different.  The man sitting next to her tries to get friendly but she ignores him.  When he offers to take to a rooming house, she's thankful for his help.   When he shows his true intentions, she fights with him and runs away.  Despairing and thinking she'll have to sleep in the park she finally lays down.  When she's laid down and shivering, she hears another man's voice.  She's prepared for the worst, but he's safe.  He says he will take to his home and his mother will let her stay for the night.

This story is woven like the pages of a diary, telling you her side of the story.  I liked that touch.  Joan is an innocent.  She's also a Catholic who is being hired by Jews.  Jewish beliefs are shared in the story and I found them interesting as I was also raised Catholic.  Joan has lots of conflicts within herself about religion and about the older brother of the household.  The best part is that the Jewish family doesn't give up on her.  Everyone has to adjust in this story and that's how it is in the real world.

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