Tuesday, February 02, 2016

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

It is 1911 and a 14-year-old girl from rural Pennsylvania dreams of a better life than she will ever have working on her father's farm. Forced to quit school, she treasures the diary given to her by her beloved teacher. Joan is a reader, and she knows from Jane Eyre and other classic stories that there is more to life for a young girl than cooking and cleaning. She runs away to Baltimore, changes her name to Janet, and gets hired by a wealthy Jewish family to be their hired girl. She learns to navigate a new world of wealth and a bewildering world of religious differences. All the while she writes in her diary about her dreams of travel and education the world beyond the station she was born into. My favorite childhood books are the Betsy Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace, and Janet is clearly akin to Betsy Ray, another girl from 1911 who longed to be a writer and see the great world. Young people who like history and coming of age stories will love this, as well as adult readers. In fact, when I purchased my copy of this book, it was in the adult section of my local children's bookstore. Recommended for grades 7-up.

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