Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman
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 (Uniforms, disposing of outgrown; The Right Use of Your Body; Finding Your Way When Lost) for tips to get off the Calle: that is, the Calle de las 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 that she is one of the “third-generation 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 workers’ reports, half-recalled memories, arrest records, family lore, Supreme Court opinions, and her grandmother’s letters, Rory crafts a devastating collage that shows us her world even as she searches for the way out of it.
Tupelo Hassman’s Girlchild is a heart-stopping and original debut.
I actually got this book recommendation from one of my favorite blogs BOOKS ON THE NIGHTSTAND. As so many of there recommendations are AWESOME, this one was right up there with the rest of them. If I had to think of one word to describe this Debut novel it would be UNIQUE. Not going to lie the writing style kind of threw me for a loop in the beginning.......BUT as the book continued with its insane circles/riddles, I fiurged out that's what kept me drawn in to keep reading.
This story is the tale of Rory Dawn Hendrix a young girl raised in a trailer park (the Calle) who society has deemed White Trash. Rory tells us her story from a small child to about 15 years old and GEEZ what a story. The way this book reads was almost like a diary/snippets into her life (Which was very fustrating at times!!). In the beginning I thought ok I've heard/read this type of story before etc.....BUT trust me not the way Mrs. Hassman tells it (unique).
As we follow Rory's life in this book, we see she comes from a family of "feebleminded" women (Remember this word!!!) or at least that's what the state/world has deemed them.
“In the recent past, however, feebleminded was considered scientific and used to describe the congenital deficit of stupidity." ---Rory
The women in her family are typically knocked up at fifteen, toothless ( yup you heard me right), and high school drop outs. Rory's different, the women in her family see it, neighbors, teachers etc. ( Her IQ is through the roof). Despite her circumstances, we see Rory struggle in the book for self identity. Can she be more than what the world has deemed her a "febbleminded" Hendrix woman? My mom (a teacher) once told me if a person calls a child for example stupid enough, how long will it take before that child believes it? My heart seriously hurt for Rory in this book.
Through the struggles of growing up in the Calle, Rory has her handbook of life along for the ride (Non other then the GIRLSCOUT HANDBOOK). I'm just going to stop here and say I was a girlscout when I was younger and how this child applied her situations in life in relation to the handbook is mind boggling (
Again good job Mrs. Hassman).
“I hold on to my Handbook because nothing else makes promises like that around here, promises with these words burning inside them: honor, duty, and try”--- Rory
The big situations in this book that stood out to me where RAPE and NEGLECT (trust me there were plenty more). There were so many times in this book I just wanted to ring her mothers neck. However, as I kept reading I had to ask myself if the mother was raised the same way (Experiencing some of the SAME SITUATIONS Rory went through) when will this vicious cycle stop ( Me frustrated and shaking my head).
The highlight of this book came for me in the form of a history lesson! One of supporting characters in this book was Rory's best friend Vivian Buck. Viv was just like Rory in so many ways. Viv moved away from the Calle and later in life Rory finds out she died not soon after. Rory always knew she would see Viv again(Her mother's words of wisdom) and she does in the form of a class project based on the AMENDMENTS.I don't want to give to much away but lets just say combine "feeble minded with Supreme Court decision BUCK vs BELL (Seriously mind boggling!!!)Watching Rory fight for all the third generation "febbleminded" young women through her class paper had me screaming you Go Girl!
As this book plays out we see Rory struggle to figure out her place in this world. Does she belong to the Hendrix class of women the state/world had classified as "febbleminded" or is she the one to exceed expectations/prove everyone wrong? As the book ended I was reminded of something Rory's grandmother said:
“These stones are like the women in our family, some disconnected, some lost, but each part of a greater chain and each beautiful in its own way. There were once many strands, but here are all that remain. It will be up to you to keep them together”--- Rory's Grandma
This book was a difficult read for me. Difficult in the sense of how the story was told, UNIQUE. At certain points in this book I felt like circles were being run around the topics at hand. With that being said, I also feel that because of the uniqueness Mrs. Hassman used to tell this story that's what made it memorable.
Good job Mrs. Hassman!
Book rating: A/4.5 stars