The hired girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
Candlewick Press, 2015. ISBN 9781406361407 (hardback) ISBN
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. A beautiful tale of adventure, love, courage and religion. Set in 1911, Joan decides to begin a diary documenting her life at Steeple Farm where she lives with her abusive father and three unsympathetic brothers. Fourteen and motherless, Joan is expected to do 'women's work' - cleaning, cooking and washing the boys' clothes, day in and day out. A lover of literature, her only friends are the strong female protagonists of the books given to her by Miss Chandler, a teacher that Joan greatly admires. Inspired by these women, Joan stands up to her father, only for him to retaliate by burning the books she holds so dear. Upon losing her most precious possessions, Joan decides that she has had enough of this miserable life and, with all of the inner strength she can muster, packs up her remaining few belongings, and takes off on an adventure; determined to reinvent herself. She heads to Baltimore, where she seeks work as a hired girl. Along the way she finds hope, love, and a new meaning of family; and discovers more about herself and the world as each day passes. Relatable, empowering and beautifully written; this is not a novel that you will easily forget. Joan's determination and perseverance makes her a heroine whose heart-warming tale inspires all who read it. A stunning story for book lovers everywhere - the type of novel that makes you want to curl up with a cup of tea and let yourself be transported into another world.
Daniella Chiarolli (university student)
Editor's note : Boston Globe-Horn Book Award fiction honor book, 2016 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, YALSA Best fiction for young adults 2016