The Hired Girl
In Newbery author Laura Amy Schlitz's The Hired Girl, 14-year-old Joan Skraggs wants nothing more than to get an education and become a schoolteacher, as her late mother wanted. The year is 1911, the place rural Pennsylvania, and opportunities for farm girls are few. She vows to escape her cruel father and endless chores, reasoning that if she's going to live a life of servitude, she might as well be paid for it. As soon as she can, Joan flees by train to Baltimore. She changes her name to ''Janet Lovelace'' and winds up in the wealthy Rosenbachs' elegant Jewish home as a hired girl, ''a kind of Gentile Cinderella.'' "Janet" is an aspiring Catholic, and her crash course in Judaism is not only instructive, but often farcical. Her earnest theological musings are humorously contrasted with more worldly concerns, from stylish hats to stray cats to her ardent, forbidden love for the Rosenbachs' artist son, David.
Fans of Little Women, rejoice. Joan's impassioned diary, inspired by Schlitz's own grandmother's journals, explores themes of faith and feminism, love and literature, culture and class in early 20th-century America, all the while charming readers with a vivid cast of characters. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness