Friday, December 23, 2016
The Hired Girl, by Laura Amy Schlitz
The result is an utterly captivating story that presents an unusual heroine who is both tempestuous and intelligent, but also sensitive and fragile. In depicting her as such, Schlitz captures the volatile world of a fourteen year-old who is curious and motivated, yet still prone to romantic fancies and fantasies. Joan/Janet is strong willed and driven, but utterly prone to bad choices and impetuous behavior in a way that is hard not to love.
But most of all, I loved the story of Janet's search for self. This is taken on all levels as she searches for love, respect, dignity, and faith. In particular, her moment of transcendence as she experiences the Divine (on pp 352-353) is worthy of the greatest religious thinkers and is a stunning appearance in the context of a novel written for teens.
This is an ambitious work that stretches the traditional boundaries of Young Adult literature. That the novel is also a respectful treatment of American Judaism and a well-researched piece of historical fiction is an added plus.