The Hired Girl
The Hired Girl

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Annotation: Over the summer of 1911, Joan--a Pennsylvania farm girl working as hired help for six dollars a week--keeps a diary in which she pours out her dreams of becoming a woman with a future.
Catalog Number: #109502
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition Date: 2015
Pages: 387 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-7636-7818-X Perma-Bound: 0-605-90727-7
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-7636-7818-0 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-90727-0
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2014955411
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 6&11;9&12; Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs is a reluctant drudge on her family's farm, and no one appreciates her. She pours her thoughts and emotions into her diary, which is the lens through which readers experience her life. And life on her family's 1911 hardscrabble Pennsylvania farm grinds on endlessly. She loves to read and longs for more education, but is trapped by her circumstances. Her boorish father pushes Joan too far the day he burns her best friends&12;her books. Soon afterward, she escapes and makes her way to Baltimore. She is taken in by a wealthy Jewish family as a hired girl. They are like no family she has ever met; their affection, religion, and education bind them into a warm unit totally foreign to Joan. She grows to love the family and is surprised and hurt to learn of anti-Semitism. She learns&12;sometimes through near disaster&12;about keeping kosher, navigating social classes, and first love. Her world expands as she encounters art, music, and literature. Joan is a well-defined character who makes impetuous, sometimes humorous, mistakes like any teenager. Her diary is written with the emotions and thoughts of a teen, but with the literary structure of one trying to affect an older and more educated sensibility. Readers are treated to a domestic education as Joan describes the incredible amount of work required to keep house in the early 20th century. Coming-of-age drama and deeper questions of faith, belonging, and womanhood are balanced with just the right blend of humor. VERDICT A wonderful look into the life of strong girl who learns that she needs the love of others to truly grow up.&12; Lisa Crandall, formerly at the Capital Area District Library, Holt, MI
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Growing up on a hardscrabble farm, Joan learned to avoid her cruel father, but she adored her mother, who encouraged her to work hard, study her lessons, and earn her own way in the world. In 1911, after Ma's death, 14-year-old Joan clashes with her father and flees to Baltimore. Representing herself as 18, she is taken into the household of a wealthy Jewish family as a hired girl. Joan works hard to please the Rosenbachs and their beloved, aging housekeeper, the testy Malka. Over the next few months, the girl makes her share of mistakes: eavesdropping, meddling, developing crushes on her employers' sons, and even setting her hair on fire (while reading by candlelight). True to her age, she becomes infatuated with two young men and also struggles with religion. Skipping forward a year, the last chapter offers a hopeful ending. Written as a diary, the first-person narrative brings immediacy to Joan's story and intimacy to her confessions and revelations. The distinctive household setting and the many secondary characters are well developed, while Joan comes alive on the page as a vulnerable, good-hearted, and sometimes painfully self-aware character struggling to find her place in the world. A memorable novel from a captivating storyteller. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The award-winning, best-selling Schlitz seems to have the Midas touch. Expect her latest to have a golden shine as well.
Voice of Youth Advocates
In this beautifully told memoir, fourteen-year-old Joan keeps a diary that chronicles her escape from indentured servitude on her family farm to working as a parlor maid for a wealthy Jewish family in Baltimore. After the death of her mother, Joan is forced to work hard for her father, who treats her with resentment. He demeans her and prevents her from going to school despite her love of books and desire to learn. Her beloved teacher, Miss Chandler, gives her a newspaper clipping that advertises for hired help getting paid six dollars a week for doing the chores that she does for free every day. Determined to prove her worth and pursue her dreams, she builds up her courage and leaves the family farm for the streets of Baltimore. She is taken in by the Rosenbach family, which employs her as a parlor maid. The Rosenbachs are Jewish and keep kosher. She is Catholic and has led an isolated farm existence that left her completely unfamiliar with Jewish customs and traditions. She is able to learn quickly from Malka, the head housekeeper, who appreciates her work ethic. Joan's ideas on religion, women's rights, and society in general are broadened as she serves her position.Schlitz claims to base her novel on her grandmother's journal. It is an enlightening portrayal of a young girl's struggle to assert herself at a time when women's rights were just beginning to be established. Joan's only option for freedom from working as a slave for her family is to work as a paid servant for a wealthy family. It is an enlightening portrayal of the lack of options that women had at the time. Joan'sástrength and determination, despite the expectations of a young woman's attitude and behavior at the time, are inspiring to young readers. Readers of all ages will find her an appealing heroine.Victoria Vogel.
Word Count: 115,564
Reading Level: 5.7
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.7 / points: 18.0 / quiz: 176200 / grade: Middle Grades+
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.6 / points:2.0 / quiz:Q42775
Lexile: 810L
Guided Reading Level: Z
Fountas & Pinnell: Z

Winner of the 2016 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction
A 2016 Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Award Winner
Winner of the 2016 National Jewish Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Newbery Medalist Laura Amy Schlitz brings her delicious wit and keen eye to early twentieth-century America in a moving yet comedic tour de force.

Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs, just like the heroines in her beloved novels, yearns for real life and true love. But what hope is there for adventure, beauty, or art on a hardscrabble farm in Pennsylvania where the work never ends? Over the summer of 1911, Joan pours her heart out into her diary as she seeks a new, better life for herself—because maybe, just maybe, a hired girl cleaning and cooking for six dollars a week can become what a farm girl could only dream of—a woman with a future. Newbery Medalist Laura Amy Schlitz relates Joan’s journey from the muck of the chicken coop to the comforts of a society household in Baltimore (Electricity! Carpet sweepers! Sending out the laundry!), taking readers on an exploration of feminism and housework; religion and literature; love and loyalty; cats, hats, and bunions.

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