The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz | SLJ Audio Review

redstarSchlitz, Laura Amy. The Hired Girl. 11 CDs. 12:45 hrs. Recorded Books. 2015. $87.75. ISBN 9781490632230. digital download. hiredgirl_cover

Gr 7 Up –Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs is forced to quit school, much to her dismay, in order to help out on Steeple Farms, where her father and three brothers work. Having lost her mother at an early age, Joan finds herself struggling to do all the chores for the men—cooking, cleaning, washing, and any other chore her father assigns her. Joan’s only escape from the daily grind and drudgery of cleaning out privies and wringing out laundry is her love of books, which her teacher gave her when she left school. Joan longs for adventure and true love just like the heroine in her favorite book, Jane Eyre. She yearns for a life away from the farm, and because there is no one else to whom she can divulge her feelings, she pours out her heart into her diary. While the novel is told entirely in diary format, Rachel Botchan’s excellent reading of Joan’s emotions, dreams, and yearnings will keep readers captivated. The story of a young girl searching for and finally discovering a world away from the farm is not a unique one, but Botchan’s narration elevates this portrayal of a vibrant, interesting, resourceful young lady who strives to take advantage of what the world has to offer in 1911. VERDICT Highly recommended. [“Coming-of-age drama and deeper questions of faith, belonging, and womanhood are balanced with just the right blend of humor”: SLJ 8/15 starred review of the Candlewick book.]–Sheila Acosta, San Antonio

This review was published in the School Library Journal March 2016 issue.

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