Wednesday, December 16, 2015

68. The Hired Girl - Laura Amy Schlitz

2015 Candlewick Press
387 pgs.
YS Historical Fiction
Finished 12/12/15
Goodreads rating:  4.05
My rating:4.5 - an excellent read
Setting:  1911 Baltimore, Md.

First line/s:  Sunday, June the fourth, 1911  "Today Miss Chandler gave me this beautiful book.  I vow that I will never forget her kindness to me, and I will use this book as she told me to - I will write in it with truth and refinement."

My comments:  The book is divided into seven "parts," each with a painting as it frontispiece and title. The paintings are acknowledged in the back of the book with painter, date, size, and gallery where each can be found.  I liked this.  The story is about Joan Skaggs (who renamed herself Janet Lovelace), a fourteen year old abused runaway who becomes the hired girl for an upper-class Jewish family in Baltimore.  The story is told from her point-of-view, in first person format, which works really well for this interesting tale.  I particularly enjoyed all the reference to cultural Judaism, which I've learned so much about in my last few years teaching in a Jewish day school.

Becky's review from Becky's Book Reviews

Goodreads Summary:  Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs, just like the heroines in her beloved novels, yearns for real life and true love. But what hope is there for adventure, beauty, or art on a hardscrabble farm in Pennsylvania where the work never ends? Over the summer of 1911, Joan pours her heart out into her diary as she seeks a new, better life for herself—because maybe, just maybe, a hired girl cleaning and cooking for six dollars a week can become what a farm girl could only dream of—a woman with a future. 

Inspired by her grandmother’s journal, Newbery Medalist Laura Amy Schlitz brings her sharp wit and keen eye to early twentieth-century America in a comedic tour de force destined to become a modern classic. Joan’s journey from the muck of the chicken coop to the comforts of a society household in Baltimore (Electricity! Carpet sweepers! Sending out the laundry!) takes its reader on an exploration of feminism and housework, religion and literature, love and loyalty, cats, hats, bunions, and burns.

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