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Author: Schlitz, Laura Amy
Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs, over the summer of 1911, pours her heart out into her diary as she seeks to travel from her Pennsylvania farm to become a hired girl in Baltimore.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG+
Reading Level: 5.70
Points: 18.0 Quiz: 176200
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 5.30
Points: 26.0 Quiz: 66861
Kirkus Reviews (+) (07/15/15)
School Library Journal (+) (08/01/15)
Booklist (+) (07/01/15)
The Hornbook (+) (00/09/15)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 07/01/2015 *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. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 08/01/2015 Gr 6–9—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—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—sometimes through near disaster—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.—Lisa Crandall, formerly at the Capital Area District Library, Holt, MI - Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.