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3.53  ·  Rating details ·  5,729 ratings  ·  1,016 reviews
Rory Hendrix is the least likely of Girl Scouts. She hasn’t got a troop or even a badge to call her own.  But she’s checked the Handbook out from the elementary school library so many times that her name fills all the lines on the card, and she pores over its surreal advice (Disposal of Outgrown Uniforms; The Right Use of Your Body; Finding Your Way When Lost) for tips to ...more
Hardcover, 275 pages
Published February 14th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Average rating 3.53  · 
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 ·  5,729 ratings  ·  1,016 reviews

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Reading Corner
Apr 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm still kinda unsure what to rate this but I'll just give it four stars for now.I think the story and the message is good and the author successfully managed to capture the gritty reality of certain areas in America or the lives of certain individuals.However, despite the grittiness Hassman still managed to reveal the beauty behind this reality and how hard these people work to better their environment and make something better for themselves.Also,I liked how the stereotype of people in traile ...more
Oct 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: general
I kept telling everyone I liked this book. And, then I realized that it took me over two months to read it--which it certainly shouldn't have, given its relatively unassuming length and short chapters. I think that I wanted to like this book-- I ALMOST liked this book.

The prose-poem style made it an interesting read, but I think that sometimes that same style also got in the way. The protagonist is likable enough, and the world that Hassman has created is believable. You can see the Calle in to
So I read the blurb for Girlchild - the one that says Tupelo Hassman's debut 'crafts a devastating collage' of her protagonist's world - but I didn't expect the book to literally feel like a collage of only loosely interconnected scenes, which is essentially what it is. The narrative flips back and forth through time as it recounts the life of Rory Dawn Hendrix and her working-class family, stuck in a trailer park on the outskirts of Reno. Touching on the cycle of abuse and failure the character ...more
Angela Holtz
Aug 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
From Lilac Wolf and Stuff

The cover caught my eye. A trailer that looks like it would feel at home in my trailer park but set in the desserts of Nevada.

I started reading and it knocked me over to read a story that followed my own childhood eerily close. It didn't hide how common child sexual abuse is, but it didn't go into painful detail either. I think it was the perfect balance on such a difficult topic for so many (too many) women.

This story is not an easy read. It deals with those living in p
Molly Garner
Dec 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
I bought this book based on Fresh Air's book critic Maureen Corrigan's glowing review. Today, the book made her top 10 list of 2012. Let me say two things: 1) I have not finished the book and, 2) I do not like this book. I continued to hope it would get better, but my hope lagged as the book became more and more focused on the severe sexual abuse of the protagonist. If I want to read a redacted copy of severe childhood abuse I'll pick up a police report. I could not understand the point of this ...more
Mar 18, 2012 rated it liked it
True story: my first job out of college was working as a juvenile probation officer. One of my clients was 13 years old. She lived in a trailer park. She was molested by several of the men there. She had three older brothers. During the year that I knew her, her mother died, one of her brothers was also placed on probation, and another brother was assigned to a long-term stay at a regional youth detention center. When I visited her in her trailer, roaches -- of all sizes -- would climb my clothe ...more
Mar 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
The disjointed narrative, made up of flashbacks, legal documents, court proceedings, and bits of the present, didn't work for me in this book because it never allowed Rory to have a voice. And while the fact she doesn't have a voice makes sense in the story, I couldn't connect with her for a long time and couldn't put together the pieces of why she was so broken, hurt, and silenced. I found the Girl Scout story line thinly developed until the end when it suddenly had a lot more page time.

That sa
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this novel. It's been a few years since I read it, but I'll do my best to tell you why I loved it so much. To start with, both the substance and the style were top-notch. Some of the things the author did - such as redacting prose was brilliant (so brilliant, I may have to steal the idea for something I write). It didn't feel like a gimmick, it felt authentic. I won't say why it was redacted, but you'll get it when you get there. You won't just get it, you'll feel it to your core. This w ...more
Uwe Hook
Aug 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Girlchild is a novel that is unlike almost anything else I've ever read. It is like opening the pages of a young girl's diary and finding the most beautiful poetry. It's funny, tragic, hopeful, devastatingly sad, naive and wise and ultimately glorious. Rory Hendrix lives in poverty with her single mother in a single wide trailer in the desert of Nevada. She has everything working against her but she always seems to find the good in life anyway. Her story will pull you in and make you want to kno ...more
Dec 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Rory lives at The Calle de los Flores, a Reno Trailer park with her mother. While Rory knows what people think of her family and her future options or lack there of, she still dreams. For Rory part of that dream is being a girl scout. She's read the Handbook guide backwords and forwards since elementary. Girlchild follows Rory through her adolescent years. Hassman's writing and Rory captured my heart. There's a beauty and honesty to both that I loved. Hassman's style has a beauitful rhythmic fre ...more
May 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Girlchild" is about Rory Dawn, the self-proclaimed "feebleminded daughter of a feebleminded daughter," and yet the first word I'm filled with when thinking of how to describe this book is "smart."

And there is so much more: heartbreaking and honest, fearless and unique, well-written and interesting, unflinching and real.

I'll say two things here: 1.) I have a feeling that this book, and more Hassman's style is not for everyone and 2.) the first 1/4 of the book takes patience, mostly due to that
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book has been on my TBR for a couple years and it wasn't until after I read gods with a little g recently that I went directly to the library to pick up a copy finally.

Rory Dawn Hendrix lives in a Reno trailer park known as the Calle with her mama. Visits from a social worker are common, welfare helps them get by, and mama's graveyard shifts at the bar keep Rory in the care of a neighbor girl whose daddy runs the hardware store.

Rory's mama was just fifteen when she had her first child, the
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general-fiction
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 l
Feb 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
4 1/2 stars.

*Please note that this review contains some profanity, all contained within quotes from the book.


To love Girlchild as much as I did, you have to be willing to understand “raw.” Several times while I was reading this book, my husband looked at my face and asked me what was wrong. (I was alternating between tears brimming over and horror leaving my mouth agape.)

Rory Dawn suffers neglect, mistreatment and abuse at the hands of those trusted to care for her. Growing up in a Nevada t
Judy King
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've given this book 5 stars, but I can't honestly say I LIKED it. I'm very glad I read it. The characters will stay with me a very long time, but this was a very difficult story to read. I came to love the little girl who was struggling so hard to end up normal in spite of her upbringing and life and background. while She declares herself the feeble minded daughter of a feeble minded daughter of a feeble minded family, this is a very bright and astute little girl. She manages to carve her own w ...more
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I sat in my bed at 2:30 AM sobbing because while this book has that smart, determined and extremely damaged girl that turns up in nearly every novel discussing mother-daughter relationships and unstable childhoods, Hassman has that fiery wit that makes your belly and soul ache when she tells another joke about the bathroom stall lock or feeble-minded families with a grimace. The nonlinear narrative also helps add to the confusion and longing enmeshed in the novel. Incredibly memorable with lines ...more
Jun 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
3.5 stars. An excellent, skilful and compassionate read full of love for its trailer park characters who live just north of Reno and just south of nowhere. Where the men hunt and trap everything from birds to stray hubcaps to small girls, using slingshots, shotguns, and the rustle of candy wrappers.

Hassman uses all kinds of types of writing from Social Services reports on the family, revised pages from the Girl Scout Handbook (the main character is in a troop of one), school exercises (a reading
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book was decent until midway through, and then it just fell apart. I cannot even guess what the purpose of the break from the storyline in the middle of the book was about. It was miserable to get through the rest of it, even if it did come together in the end.

It did remind me a little of Lullabies for Little Criminals, which I loved. Then it just got way, way out there. I do not recommend.
Dec 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who liked Cruddy and Winter's Bone.
Shelves: 2012, fiction, ladyish
I hold onto my Handbook because nothing else makes promises like that around here, promises with these words burning inside them: honor, duty and try. Try and duty I hear all the time, as in "try to get some sleep," and "get me some duty-free cigarettes from the Indian store," while honor's reserved solely for the Honorable Joseph A. on The People's Court, as in, "Your Honor, I was just trying to get my wallet out for the duty-free cigs when my gun went off," but these words never ever show thei
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Most narrators that steal reader’s hearts don’t come from trailer parks, but Rory Dawn, or RD, Hendrix of the Calle de las Flores trailer park on the outskirts of Reno, is a character that is to damaged and yet beautiful to be forgotten. Tupelo Hassman’s debut novel Girlchild is a true work of art. While it deals with the more undesirable elements of society, and yes, there are many passages that are difficult to read, it is also a piercing look into the bonds of love between a mother and daught ...more
Ecaterina Burton
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Picked it up, thinking it was a young adult book, but discovered it was more than that. Surprising themes on worth and the cultural ramifications of court rulings on feeble-mindedness and eugenics---there are very few times where I see a piece of fiction subtly and artfully unravel these issues in ways more profound than reams of policy analysis. Prose was lyrical, and didn't always match the age of the narrator, Rory, the main character whose life we see through her eyes between 5 and 15. Growi ...more
Mar 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Probably more like 3.5 stars; there were parts that I absolutely loved, but parts that floundered a bit. (The fake math/logic problems didn't do it for me; I've seen that trick done before to much better effect.) The publishers description really does this no justice. It's in almost no way about Girlscouts, aside from some vague metaphors. This book has a lot more in common with House on Mango Street, or even Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven than the jacket would have you believe. It's ...more
Feb 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
"Red Necks" "Trailer Trash" "White Trash" "feebleminded" "low class"

Hassman's debut novel is an unflinching look at an underclass of undesirables that society prefers to think about only when making them the fodder of jokes and bad television sit-coms.

Through prose that is engaging and direct, Hassman lays bare the inner mind of a young girl Rory, growing up trying to make sense of her own dignity and self-worth in a place that society has deemed worthless and hopeless.

Hassman has the ability t
Diane S ☔
Mar 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
The character of Rory quite quickly won me over and I found myself just wanting to grab her and get her out of there. She is also the narrator and tells her story in a matter of fact tone of voice in relatively short musings. Parts of this were hard to read but I just found myself wanting something good to happen for her. The writing is unique as is this first book by a new author. Can't wait to see what she does next.
When I’d first heard of Girlchild, I left with the impression that it would be a story set in a harsh landscape with a resilient and quirky young protagonist—ala Susan Patron’s Lucky or Kate DiCamillo’s India Opal. But this is no children’s book. I should have read to the end of this Maureen Corrigan NPR review beforehand where it notes: “Rory endures sexual abuse, the death of loved ones, and everyday invisibility — all without playing for our sympathy.” The sexual abuse she endures is really d ...more
Mar 31, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was ok. Very interesting writing style. I think I've had an overload of books with child abuse in them. Didn't make enough of an impression on me to give it more than three stars.
T. Greenwood
Feb 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
4 1/2 stars. The wonderful thing about first time novelists is their fearlessness. This book is wonderfully brave: not because of its subject matter (which is dark -- poverty, molestation, etc...) but because of the way in which this subject matter is revealed to the reader. The structure of this novel was just as compelling as the story, and the two together were gently explosive. (I actually think that this book does exactly what A Visit from the Goon Squad tried to do, but better.)

In this nov
Mar 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
'Girlchild' is the story of what it means to a little girl when men find boredom in a trailer park near Reno, when all that they can see is the desert. This is told from the point of view of Rory Dawn Hendrix (from her name I envisioned her parents as a Gilmore Girl and a rock star.) Most of the chapters are less than three pages, and some of the story is told through social service reports or pages of a Girl Scout handbook. I was a bit wary when I heard the story was about abuse. It is certainl ...more
Jun 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
I decided I liked the style more than the substance on this book. The story of Rory Dawn Hendrix is told through her own voice, court documents, social worker reports, imaginary, impossible multiple choice questions and through the influence of the Girl Scout Handbook. Her actual story is a little cryptic, but it is sad, with some signs of hope for the future. I read some of the review blurbs on the dust jacket and I am surprised that some reviewers found it comical. I would say ironic and sarca ...more
Sigrid Bishop
Feb 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Authentically-told story of a resilient "girlchild" who lives at the unfortunate confluence of multiple disadvantages that have afflicted her family for generations: poverty, parental neglect, sexual abuse, and the general lack of a healthy environment for children. The girlchild, Rory D., takes everything in stride as being just the matter-of-fact stuff of her life -- a narrative stance that rings true for children in even the most dire circumstances. I was disappointed that near the end of the ...more
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Tupelo Hassman's first novel, girlchild, was published in 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Globe, Paper Street Press, The Portland Review Literary Journal, Tantalum, We Still Like, ZYZZYVA, and by,, and Invisible City Audio Tours. More is forthcoming from The Arroyo Review Literary Journal, Harper's Bazaar, and This Land. ...more

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