Monday, January 4, 2016
The Hired Girl
Joan is pretty certain her life is over. It's 1911, and she is the only daughter of a poor farmer who sees no need for education and reading. He sees fourteen year old Joan as a woman to do alone the woman's work of the farm--cooking and cleaning for her brutish father and brothers.
But Joan loves reading and school. It was her dead mother's fondest wish that her daughter should get an education, become a teacher, and be the master of her own fate. A smart girl like Joan would not have to marry a family and work herself to death.
When Joan sees an advertisement in the paper for a hired girl in the city, an idea begins to form. Working for a family of strangers couldn't be any worse than working for her cruel father plus she would earn wages. This sets off a conflict with her father so terrible Joan knows she must leave or else see all the days of her life as a an unloved servant to her father.
But she has little idea what to do when she actually arrives in Baltimore. Where will she sleep? How will she get a job? A chance encounter in a moment of despair will change her life forever. Joan, now known as Janet to conceal her identity, finds herself employed in the home of a wealthy Jewish merchant. This is the first step on her road to progress, but little does she know the growing pains she will have to endure on her way to becoming a lady of refinement.
All these adventures she faithfully records in her diary, a gift from her former school teacher, and reading this book is like a visit with a best friend. You both keep saying it's time to leave, but the hours continue to slip by while you enjoy one another's company. Laura Amy Schlitz's new book is my favorite book I read in 2015. It is just brimming with personality, humor, and voice as well as being an exploration of feminism, religion, education, and love. Highly recommended!