The Hired Girl

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz is a wonderful coming-of-age piece of historical fiction about an early 20th century girl named Joan Skraggs. Joan, whose mother died when she was young, lives on a farm with her father and three brothers in rural Pennsylvania where she lives under her cruel and domineering father who treats her like a servant. When Joan turns fourteen her father pulls her out of school, where learning had been her only respite from her household drudgery and poor treatment from her family, and forbids her from seeing her beloved school teacher. Joan tries to do her duties and find her happiness through her few books that she owns. Joan tries to gain some freedoms but her father subdues her at every turn. When her father burns her books in retaliation for Joan expressing her wants to earn money for herself, Joan runs away to Baltimore where she finds word as a hired girl for a wealthy Jewish family. Here her naivete is on display in full force. While she’s no stranger to hard work, she has many lessons to learn about religion, tolerance, love, the servant/employer relationship and more.

The Hired Girl is written as Joan’s diary and the innocent voice of a girl who is screaming to take control of her own life is one that everyone can relate to. What was great about this book is that it is appropriate for all ages. I enjoyed learning about life and society in 20th century Baltimore as Joan sees it as she adjusts from rural farm life to a brand new and exciting culture. For the first time Joan is on her own- but what will she make of herself?51i2HuDwXFL._SX348_BO1,204,203,200_


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