Like the first book I read for my 2017 book goal, I’d never heard of ‘The Hired Girl’ by Laura Amy Schlitz until I read the blurb on the A Mighty Girl booklist, but it sounded promising. Published in September 2015 it is a work for young adults and is one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to teen girls.
The book tells the story of fourteen year old Joan who, in 1911, runs away from her home on a small farm in Pennsylvania when her father forbids her from continuing her schooling. Being a lover of reading, Joan treasures the few books she owns and longs for a life full of love and adventure just like her favourite heroines.
The Hired Girl takes the form of a diary, written by Joan in the notebook given to her by her beloved teacher, Miss Chandler. At first I found the format a bit befuddling, and frankly I had a bit of trouble with Joan’s ‘voice’. But I got over myself and realised that the author had truly managed to inhabit the mind of a fourteen year old girl. If you’re a fan of Anne of Green Gables you’ll like Joan – she’s intelligent, naïve, impetuous, prone to making rather large blunders, and desperate to be in love. At times I found Joan to be a frustrating character who is overly emotional and a bit self-involved, but then again so are all regular fourteen year old girls (except for me – I’m sure I was perfect when I was fourteen – Ha!).
The author has crafted a tale where Joan takes us on a journey through early twentieth-century America as she experiences new inventions like electricity and a magical carpet-sweeper, and as she learns about feminism, religion and love. Overall I thought ‘The Hired Girl’ was an enjoyable book, and one I’d recommend if you’re looking for an easy read.