The Hired Girl (Hardcover)

By Laura Amy Schlitz

Candlewick Press (MA), 9780763678180, 400pp.

Publication Date: September 8, 2015

List Price: 17.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Winner of the 2016 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction
A 2016 Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Award Winner
Winner of the 2016 National Jewish Book Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature

Newbery Medalist Laura Amy Schlitz brings her delicious wit and keen eye to early twentieth-century America in a moving yet comedic tour de force.

Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs, just like the heroines in her beloved novels, yearns for real life and true love. But what hope is there for adventure, beauty, or art on a hardscrabble farm in Pennsylvania where the work never ends? Over the summer of 1911, Joan pours her heart out into her diary as she seeks a new, better life for herself--because maybe, just maybe, a hired girl cleaning and cooking for six dollars a week can become what a farm girl could only dream of--a woman with a future. Newbery Medalist Laura Amy Schlitz relates Joan's journey from the muck of the chicken coop to the comforts of a society household in Baltimore (Electricity Carpet sweepers Sending out the laundry ), taking readers on an exploration of feminism and housework; religion and literature; love and loyalty; cats, hats, and bunions.

About the Author

Laura Amy Schlitz is the author of the Newbery Medal-winning Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village, the Newbery Honor Book and New York Times bestseller Splendors and Glooms, and several other books for young readers. A teacher as well as a writer, Laura Amy Schlitz lives in Maryland.

Conversation Starters from

  1. “I know I’m not nothing,” Joan writes while she’s still living on the farm (page 36). What is the source of her self-confidence? How did her mother and teacher foster it? Why can’t her father and brothers extinguish it?generic viagra price canada
  2. Why does Mr. Skraggs burn his daughter’s books? What does he fear reading will do to her? Is he right? Why or why not?generic viagra price canada
  3. Why does Joan rename herself when she arrives in Baltimore? What does she gain by choosing her own name?generic viagra price canada
  4. “She is utterly without guile,” Mrs. Rosenbach says of Joan (page 94), “a stranger in a strange land.” What does Mrs. Rosenbach mean? Have you ever felt like a “stranger in a strange land”? Do you think Mrs. Rosenbach ever felt like one?generic viagra price canada
  5. Why is Malka reluctant to share her housekeeping duties with a non-Jew? Why does Father Horst think Joan should work for a Catholic family?generic viagra price canada
  6. Joan had never met a Jew or heard the word “anti-Semitism” before she went to Baltimore. What does living with the Rosenbachs teach her about the city’s Jewish population? What does she discover about anti-Semitism in Baltimore and beyond?generic viagra price canada
  7. Social class separates Joan from the Rosenbachs perhaps even more than religion. How are hired girls supposed to behave? What are the penalties for breaking the rules?generic viagra price canada
  8. Joan prays regularly to the Blessed Mother. “Sometimes she answers me back,” Joan writes (page 6), “though I’m never sure if the voice is hers or Ma’s, or if the whole thing is my imagination.” What do you think?generic viagra price canada
  9. Alone in a chapel at Corpus Christi Church, Joan realizes, “I have to be a Catholic” (page 354). How would you describe what happens to her there?generic viagra price canada
  10. “I’m sure I ought to feel repentant about not loving Father, but I don’t,” Joan insists (page 212). Why can’t Joan love her father? Should she? Why or why not?generic viagra price canada
  11. What does Mr. Rosenbach love about America? Why do his daughters-in-law criticize him for being “too Amerikanisch” (page 356)?generic viagra price canada
  12. Discuss Mr. Rosenbach’s relationship with Joan. How is it different from his wife’s relationship with the hired girl?generic viagra price canada
  13. Running away from home has always been dangerous, especially for a fourteen-year-old girl. At what points in The Hired Girl does Joan narrowly avoid disaster? Is she lucky? Or does she make her own luck?generic viagra price canada
  14. What qualities does Joan share with modern American teenage girls? In what other ways is she thoroughly of her own time?generic viagra price canada
  15. What does Mimi realize immediately about Joan? Why does she think of Joan as a friend, not as a servant? What traits do the two girls share?generic viagra price canada
  16. “You think of yourself as a member of this family,” Mimi says to Joan (page 327) “as if you’re almost Jewish. But you’re not. You’ll never be one of us.” Why is this so hurtful for Joan to hear? Why could she never be David’s wife?generic viagra price canada
  17. “The world’s changing—not for the better, if you ask me—but in these crazy modern times,” Malka says (page 376), “a girl can be anything. A doctor, even.” What do you think Joan’s career will be? Will Mimi end up running Rosenbach’s Department Store?generic viagra price canada
  18. At the very beginning of the book, when Joan receives her new diary, she vows to “write in it with truth and refinement” (page 3). By the end of The Hired Girl, has she kept that promise? Why or why not?generic viagra price canada
  19. The novel takes place in America during the turn of the previous century. Some of the characters are very Old World; others are more attracted to modern, “Amerikanisch” ways. Which characters are wedded to tradition? Which are eager to embrace novelty? Where does Joan stand?generic viagra price canada
  20. Joan begins the novel lamenting the lost opportunity to get an education, and she ends it rejoicing because she’s about to go to school. In between, she falls in love with David Rosenbach. As a reader, were you disappointed that Joan’s first love affair ended in heartbreak (and recovery)? Would you have rather had the book end with her engagement to David? Why or why not?generic viagra price canada
  21. Joan uses the phrase “real life” in two opposite ways. She thinks of it as taking place in the Swiss Alps or Venice, and she imagines it to be highly colorful and exciting; she’s longing for her “real life” to begin. But she also wonders why “real life” (that is, her life) can’t be more like the opera. Like many people, she is living two lives: one full of housework and waiting, and another that is marked by emotional peaks (her visit to the opera, the time she spends with David) and valleys. Which is more real? What is Joan’s real life?generic viagra price canada