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 get off the Calle: that is, Calle de los Flores, 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 "third generation in a line of apparent imbeciles, feeble-minded bastards surely on the road to whoredom." But she's determined to prove the County and her own family wrong. Brash, sassy, vulnerable, wise, and terrified, she struggles with her mother's habit of trusting the wrong men, and the mixed blessing of being too smart for her own good. From diary entries, social worker's reports, half-recalled memories, story problems, arrest records, family lore, Supreme Court opinions, and her grandmother's letters, Rory crafts a devastating collage that shows us her world while she searches for the way out of it. Girlchild is a heart-stopping and original debut.
Although Hassman's novel is, undeniably, a series of small gems tied together by one character in search of answers, it's also a broader meditation on what it means to grow up female in small town America. (Reviewed by Norah Piehl).
A sweet-hearted debut that women's reading groups should consider.
Starred Review. Despite a few jarring moments of moralizing, this debut possesses powerful writing and unflinching clarity.
A darkly funny and frequently heartbreaking portrait of life as one of America's have-nots.
Amy Greene, author of Bloodroot
From the first page of Tupelo Hassman's brilliant debut, I fell in love with its unforgettable narrator. I couldn't stop reading until the heartbreaking but hopeful end, rooting for Rory Dawn Hendrix to make her own destiny.
Aimee Bender, author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
This amazing debut spills over with love, but is still absolutely unflinching and real. That is no easy combo to pull off, and Tupelo Hassman does it repeatedly with precision and grace. Rory D. is ebulliently alive on the page; she's really that kind of fresh new voice people talk about, leaving us with a completely memorable character.
Jaimy Gordon, author of the National Book Award winner Lord of Misrule
This first novel is not like anything you or I have ever read. Something between a shocking exposé, a defiant treatise, a prose poem, and an exuberant Girl Scout manual, it is always formally inventive and bursting with energy.... [Hassman] has irrepressible high spirits, which flow forth in this case as brilliance and lyricism. Tupelo Hassman loves life in spite of everything, and you can't help loving this novel and her.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by lani s A book like no other... Tuppman's expressive and inventive prose is a delight that lifts one's imagination with each sentence. I would often stop and picture the image that her gorgeous writing would produce. Her savage depiction of trailer park life and the woes of... Read More
Although many elements - from her grandma's letters, to her mother's hopes, to her friends' expectations - help shape Rory's understanding of what it means to be a girl in her small community, one institution does more than any other to shape Rory's perception of American girlhood: the Girl Scouts of the USA.
The Girl Scouts of the USA were founded by Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low (pictured, middle) in Savannah, Georgia, in 1912. Part of a worldwide Scouting movement founded by Robert Baden-Powell in 1909, the Girl Scouts (known as Girl Guides in the UK and Canada) believed that girls should be given opportunities to develop physically, mentally, and spiritually. A combination of domestic preparedness, civic engagement, and outdoor aptitude has been stressed since the early years of the program. In the United States today, approximately 3.2 million girls and adults are actively involved in Girl Scouts, and there are...
An indispensable collection of new and classic stories, Blasphemy reminds us, on every thrilling page, why Sherman Alexie is one of our greatest contemporary writers and a true master of the short story.
Research shows that 90% of Americans value public libraries(Dec 11 2013) According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, about 90% of Americans aged 16 and older said that the closing of their local public library would have an...