What would it be like to grow up in a dirt-poor community of rusted-out trailers in the middle of the desert, never feeling safe? Rory Hendrix knows that world all too well, even though she's still just a little girl.
My mama always hid her mouth when she laughed. Even when she spoke too gleefully, mouth stretched too wide by those happy muscles, teeth too visible. I can still recognize someone from my neighborhood by their teeth. Or lack of them. And whenever I do, I call those people family. I know immediately that I can trust them with my dog but not with the car keys and not to remember what time, exactly, they're coming back for their kids. I know if we get into a fight and Johnny shows up we'll agree that there has been "No problem, Officer, we'll keep it down."—Girlchild by Tupel Hassman (Macmillan / Picador, 2013, p. 3)
I know what they hide when they hide those teeth.
- Setting: the Calle des Flores, outside of Reno; the 1960s
- Circumstances: Rory lives with her mother but must fend for herself; she is smart but is beaten down by abuse and poverty; she wants out but is distrustful of the system
- Characters: Rory; Jo, her mother; Hardware Man, the evil neighbor; various people from the Calle and school
- Style: written in short pieces: diary entries, Girl Scout Handbook, case worker files, school word problems
- Genre: literary, coming of age
- Difficult themes: child abuse, poverty
- Miscellaneous: just out in paperback this month; winner of several awards, including the 2013 Alex Award and the 2012 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize
What to Know More?
Learn about Tupelo Hassman by visiting her her website, her Tumblr site, and her Facebook page. She's been interviewed a number of times, including by The Rumpus, Litseen, and The Kenyon Review. For an overview of the novel, watch this short video, which includes a brief reading from the book.
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