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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice Rory Hendrix, the least likely of Girl Scouts, hasn’t got a troop or a badge to call her own. But she still borrows the Handbook from the elementary school library to pore over its advice, looking for tips to get off the Calle—the Reno trailer park where she lives with her mother, Jo, the sweet-faced, hard-luck bartender at the Truck Stop. Rory’s been told she is one of the “third-generation bastards surely on the road to whoredom,” and she’s determined to break the cycle. As Rory struggles with her mother’s habit of trusting the wrong men, and the mixed blessing of being too smart for her own good, she finds refuge in books and language. From diary entries, social workers' reports, story problems, arrest records, family lore, and her grandmother’s letters, Tupelo Hassman's Girlchild crafts a devastating collage that shows us Rory's world while she searches for the way out of it.…

Girlchild: A Novel

by Tupelo Hassman

Overall Book Review:

Imagine being a young girl who’s brightest spot in the day is finding a dollar, or getting to play a favorite song on the jukebox at the bar where your mother works…this is the life of Rory Hendrix. Rory who lives in a trailer. Rory whose best friend is a better Girl Scout. Rory whose mother works in a bar called the Truck Stop.

Told in short chapters, Girlchild really stuck with me and made me appreciate my lot in life. Though this book is fiction, it was easy for me to imagine it being reality. It is a tough truth, but many young girls grow up the way Rory does. At times I found myself feeling awfully sorry for Rory and her friends and family, almost as if they were a group of people that really existed.

Throughout the book, Rory voices her desire to escape her lifestyle and the town where she lives. She is just a young teen girl though, and in the town where she lives, that doesn’t get you far. Women are viewed as sex objects and companions to men, and in Rory’s case, her mother is the bread-winner in their small family. This book had many qualities that made Rory’s situation seem hopeless, but the conclusion left her story somewhat open-ended, which is nice. Maybe she keeps on living the life she has always known or maybe an opportunity arises for her to make a better life for herself. It’s up to the reader to decide.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  9 mild obscenities; 3 religious profanities; 11 derogatory names; 6 anatomical terms; 1 offensive hand gesture; 13 F-word derivatives

Violence/Gore: A young girl’s babysitter punishes her by pulling her hair; a character threatens another verbally; a brief mention of a man severing his finger; a house fire starts due to marijuana use; a character dies suddenly; a house is burned down deliberately.

Sex/Nudity:  A man mentions a woman letting her boyfriend “feel her up”; a young girl is aware of her mother having multiple lovers and overnight guests; a woman is mentioned to have an abortion; an unwed woman is mentioned to be pregnant; a woman is referred to as an “easy lay”; several times a girl describes a situation where she is being abused sexually, though she obviously doesn’t understand what is being done to her; a mother makes a comment to her daughter that “this will be the year you will not get pregnant”; a girl talks about the pros and cons of the feebleminded being “sterilized”; a teen girl describes seeing a naked man; a girl describes experiencing her first menstruation.

Mature Subject Matter:

Divorce, abuse, incest, death of a parent, arson.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Adults drink; adults smoke; teenagers are mentioned to be high; a man is arrested for possession of marijuana; a woman offers to carry drugs across states for payment; a woman is mentioned to be “tripping on acid”.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Books and reading have always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my grandma was the library director at our local public library. Years later, after she had retired, I became a librarian at the same library and worked there for several years before taking a part-time job at a local coffee shop, which gives me more time to do what I love, to read and to review books! A few of my favorite authors are Aimee Bender, Diane Chamberlain, and Curtis Sittenfeld however, I will read almost any book I come across! In my spare time you can find me reading (of course), volunteering at a wildlife animal rehab, or hanging out with my two house rabbits.