Father laughed. It wasn’t a natural sound, or a happy one. When most people laugh, it’s like water splashing over the lip of a pitcher. The thing happens easily, and it wants to go on. Father’s laugh was like coughing up something from the back of the throat (p 26).
Joan Skraggs is a hardworking, under-appreciated young girl supporting her father and brothers on a farm in Pennsylvania in 1911. Her myriad chores – cooking, cleaning and tending to the animals – leaves little time for the imaginative girl to read and write. Yet her ambitions are great and her resolve steadfast. She orchestrates her own emancipation, traveling at the tender age of fourteen to Philadelphia to seek work as a hired girl.
It is in the pages of her journal that we follow her journey from gritty farm life to the thrilling city where she is employed in a Jewish household. With eagerness and a friendly, obliging disposition, she overcomes numerous mishaps and obstacles to charm everyone from curmudgenly servants to the head of house, Mr. Rosenbach, to forge a new future for herself.
Schlitz has woven another masterpiece, with a heroine of full soul and innocent charm reminiscent of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne and so many other great literary female protagonists. Utterly absorbing and highly recommended.
Advance Reader Copy | Candlewick Press | 2015 | 387 pages | Ages 12 +