The Hired Girl - Laura Amy Schlitz

This charming story is set in 1911. Joan Scraggs is 14 years old when her father pulls her out of school and forces her to work like a mule at home on their Pennsylvania farm. Her teacher gives her a diary which Joan writes in every day and the story is told through her diary entries.

After her miserable father burns her beloved books, Joan cannot take another minute under his roof. She runs away to Baltimore to start a new life for herself as a hired girl making $6 a week cooking and cleaning for a Jewish family. She is a Catholic girl and knows nothing about their religion or traditions and manages to continually say and do the wrong things. She always means well and wants desperately to fit in and be useful.

Joan reminded me so much of Anne Shirley. She loves to read and write and she's always getting herself into awkward and humiliating situations. Her story is inspiring and funny and so many times I found myself embarrassed for her. Every time she would end a diary entry with zest and excitement and begin the very next entry as if the world were coming to an end, I found myself laughing and cringing at the same time. What have you gotten yourself into this time, Joan?

We are continually reminded of how young and naive she truly is. From setting her hair, and nearly the entire house, on fire by attempting to read in bed by candlelight to falling head over heels for an older man and obsessing to the point of believing she was practically engaged after he had merely kissed her for the first time, you can't help but feel for her. Joan is a lovable, frustrating, wonderful character and I enjoyed her story immensely.