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.
©2012 Tupelo Hassman. (P)2012 Tantor
"This debut possesses powerful writing and unflinching clarity." (Publishers Weekly)
Elderly (1932), retired university professor, degrees in engineering and economics.
The subject is repugnant. Just to know that children are subjected to such depths of physical and emotional pain and turmoil creates a lethal level of anger and fury within us. However, the descriptions of the inner life of this girlchild can give us the impetus to confront this cycle of children giving birth to children.
At an individual level, from where comes the inner voice within some children that says there is a better way to live and drives the determination to pursue it. In Hassman’s book, Rory Dawn Hendrix hears this voice. She is the child of an unknown father and her 15 year-old mother, who was the child of a 13 year-old mother by an unknown father. In too many cases, the father and/or lover of the mother is the father of the new girlchild.
Rory’s inner voice comes from an old, tattered Girl Scout Manual. She knows that other girls do not live like she does. Books impact lives. There are other factors that reinforce her resolve. She has three older brothers who broke away from the life of booze, gambling and petty crime. She has a librarian and a couple of teachers who recognize her high level of intelligence. She has a grandmother who protects and cares for her during her early childhood. The owner of the bar where her mother works is a decent guy who tries to protect her.
As a retired university professor, I came to know some of these young people who were survivors who heard this inner voice and succeeded. This is an interesting book. I recommend it.
I was attracted to this book thinking it would be funny but I assure you it is not. I also admit that I didn't finish the book, but I didn't because it just got too depressing for me to listen to anymore, not because it wasn't well written or a great story. I found the author's writing style to be pure genius and had the story been a bit lighter, I would have LOVED it.The author actually reads the book too and is good but her tone and style gets monotonous after awhile, adding to the unrelenting depressing quality of the book.
I could not finish this book. The story is so difficult to hear because of the repeated and increasingly graphic descriptions of her abuse. I know it's an important subject, but for me, this was just too hard to hear in this detail.
Not for me, but I'm sure it would be for many others.
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