Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is one of those books I bought only because my neighborhood book club voted to discuss it. Boy, am I glad I did. It turned out to be so different from most books I've read, and so interesting I couldn't put it down. One way it is different is that it is told in short episodes rather than scenes and chapters. There are enough descriptions for the reader to visualize the people and the places, but that's not the important part. As a father, my concern was for Rory Dawn Hendrix, the little child called girlchild by her mother when she tucked her in at night. I wanted to know if Rory would survive the life dealt her. Would she live, and would she grow up unharmed emotionally?
In addition to Rory, the main characters are Rory's mother, Johanna Ruth Hendrix, and her grandmother, Shirley Rose. "Mothering is not this family's strong suit," Rory observes. Still, Rory's mother tries hard to protect her daughter. She knows the evils young girls face growing up in a trailer park with few friends and family, while being left alone. Rory is smart, smart enough to lose the spelling bee on purpose to make life easier for herself and her mother.
Another way the book is different is the way a real person is inserted into the story. A playmate of Rory's, Vivian Buck, was the daughter of Carrie Buck who was sterilized for being feebleminded in the 1920's. We don't know if this playmate was a ghost or what, but, in real life, Vivian died before the time of Rory's story. I didn't find this confusing, though. It made the book more interesting to me.
This book will make you think and feel, and after you've read it, you'll feel satisfied while wanting to know more.
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