By: Laura Amy Schlitz
Joan lives with her brothers and father on a farm in rural Pennsylvania. As the only female in the household, she is left to do all the household chores and cooking. Her own mother (now deceased) believed that she should be educated and Joan goes to school. It is insinuated that her mother thought one day Joan should be free from the grueling farm life and carefully sewed money into Joan’s doll for whenever she would need it. After father burns Joan’s beloved books in response to her rebellion, Joan decides to run away to become a hired girl in a family home and make $6 a week. The story is written in a diary format and Joan’s intelligence and passion for romantic plots in novels informs her thoughts and writing.
Joan arrives in Baltimore with uncertainty and cannot find a place to sleep for the night. Upon deciding to sleep on a park bench, she is rescued by the Rosenbachs, a family in need of an additional hand around the house. Malka, the current housekeeper, is treated as family, but is also aging. Joan is brought on contingency before becoming fully hired and making her dream $6 a week. Joan’s primary function is as a “Shabbos goy,” a non-Jewish worker that can help do cleaning during the Sabbath without violating religious doctrine. Some humorous situations involving her lack of knowledge of living in a big city and Judaism add to the plot. Will Joan have her own happily ever after?
Why I picked it up: I saw this book floating around in professional literature and since I love historical fiction, I had to read it.
Why I finished it: At times Joan’s thoughts can become exasperatingly naive, but there is something enjoyable reading through her resolutions. Plus, I had to find out how everything worked out.
I’d give it: 4 stars
Reviewed by: Diana (Harrington Library)