Title – The Hired Girl
Author – Laura Amy Schlitz
Publication Date – September 8th 2015 by Candlewick Press
ISBN – 9780763678180
My Rating – ★★★
Joan is fourteen years old, dreams of starting a real life and finding true love. But Joan doesn’t have much hope of any of that happening while she’s stuck working on her father’s farm. Joan dreams of adventure but she’s worked to exhaustion and only has three books that were given to her by her favourite teacher.
During the summer of 1911, Joan pours her heart into the diary Miss Chandler gave her as she sets off to find a better life for herself. Joan hopes that as a hired girl, who makes six dollars a week, she’ll have the chance to become the person her mother wanted her to be. A girl with a bright future away from the farm.
I received a copy of The Hired Girl from Walker Books Australia and New Zealand to review. On the cover it says that this has the “charm of Little Women and the wit of Anne of Green Gables.” I’m kind of embarrassed to say I haven’t read either of these yet. But that just means I can’t compare them. Which is a good thing. I think.
This book is told through Joan’s diary entries. She received the diary from her teacher because Joan wanted to be a writer. Her life gets worse when she’s pulled out of school to do the ‘women’s work’ on the farm. She tries a few things to make her life a little better but not everything turns out the way she planned them to so she decides to leave. Joan changes her name and lies about her age so she can be a hired girl.
Joan’s life is full of drama. Drama that she created. I think she had the best intentions but she was so young, naive and a bit of a romantic and she’d come up with these plans to help the people around her and most of them backfired on her. It was kind of annoying how naive Joan was but I still liked her.
I’m not religious so I found all the talk about religion a little too much and sometimes really preachy. It was interesting to see the difficulties a Catholic girl would have had working in a Jewish household, learning their ways but while also being true to her own faith. Especially when a certain person told her she shouldn’t be working for them because they were Jews. I didn’t see a problem with her working for them. Until she got it into her head that she was going to convert them all. I could see that one blowing up in her face. What a stupid thing to do. I understand that Joan’s faith was a big part of who she is but it just got to be a bit too much for me. Which is one reason I only gave it three stars.
Despite those things I did actually like The Hired Girl. It had some funny and entertaining moments. Plus, all the drama was fun to read about. I’m glad that Joan learned her lesson to not interfere in other people’s lives. She did grow up a lot in the book. Schlitz wrote some very colourful and entertaining characters, even if some of them did annoy me.
Have you read The Hired Girl? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments.