Lynetta's Reviews > Girlchild

Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman
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U 50x66
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Aug 20, 12

it was amazing
bookshelves: general-fiction
Read in August, 2012

I have always admired Margaret Sanger and felt abortion should be available to any woman who wants to make that choice.

Tupelo Hassman's novel with the heartbreaking character Rory Hendrix should be required reading for those who oppose women's rights. Obviously her mother in the novel, Jo, didn't make that choice with Rory or the other four brothers that departed as soon as possible.

Jo is an alcoholic smoker, a bartender, and seemingly has no end of men friends over. They live in the Calle de las Flores, a Reno trailer park full of hard-drinking, hard-living people who have a code of conduct of sharing babysitting, food and cigarettes until the food stamps will be available again. Her grandmother is addicted to slots but is kind to Rory. The grandfather appears once and takes Rory to buy a doll. Jo throws it on the ground and insists the father leave before he does to Rory what he did to Jo. The Hardware Man, who is supposed to be her babysitter, does. It's THAT kind of book.

On the first page we know it will be painful when Rory says "[B]y the time Mama was fifteen she had three (teeth) left that weren't already black or getting there, and jagged."

Rory's one book she consults constantly for advice is The Girl Scout Handbook. At last another girl moves in and offers the Girl Scout salute, but she, too, moves along. Rory is a troop of one trying to cope with endless problems.

Rory is intelligent (as well as wise beyond her years in some ways, naive in others) and Jo puts on her best clothes to speak to the guidance counselor and hear that Rory is "college material." Rory's reply is "The only person we know going to college is Alex on Family Ties, but Mr. Lombroso sounds so happy that Mama tries to be happy too." She does well at the Washoe County Spelling Bee. She wins a set of Academic American Encyclopedias and the right to go to the Championship where she misses "Outliar."

Hassman does a fabulous job bringing Rory and her family to life through reports of social workers, addiction, fear, and the advice of the Girl Scout Handbook. It is so painful to read her (fictional) biography, but enlightening!
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