Girlchild [NOOK Book]

Overview

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,...

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Girlchild

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Susannah Meadows
It takes real talent to make something beautiful out of a trailer park. Girlchild, Tupelo Hassman’s lacerating debut novel, is the story of Rory Dawn Hendrix, a young girl growing up in the Calle, a cluster of mobile homes on a plot of dust outside Reno, Nev. Ms. Hassman is such a poised storyteller that her prose practically struts. Her words are as elegant as they are fierce. A voice as fresh as hers is so rare that at times I caught myself cheering…I'd go anywhere with this writer.
—The New York Times
Megan Mayhew Bergman
Hassman avoids falling into stock characterization—the deprived but talented protagonist who overcomes great odds to achieve success—by emphasizing the gut-wrenching details of Rory's childhood. Rory's success is never guaranteed. In fact, as the novel progresses, it seems heartbreakingly unlikely…Although the novel is harrowing, Hass­man's imaginative prose helps the reading go easier. Trailer park epigrams…and moments of strange beauty enhance our sense of the Calle community.
—The New York Times Book Review
From the Publisher
"This debut possesses powerful writing and unflinching clarity." ---Publishers Weekly Starred Review
Library Journal
In this brutally realistic portrait of trailer-park America, Rory Hendrix struggles to survive poverty and abuse with advice from the Girl Scout Handbook, which she has checked out many times from the library. A heartbreaking yet humorous coming-of-age tale. (Xpress Reviews, 2/24/12)—Wilda Williams

(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781466801455
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 2/14/2012
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 174,009
  • File size: 513 KB

Meet the Author

Tupelo Hassman graduated from Columbia's MFA program. Her writing has been published in the Portland Review Literary Journal, Paper Street Press, Tantalum, We Still Like, and Zyzzyva, and by 100 Word Story, Five Chapters.com, and Invisible City Audio Tours.


Tupelo Hassman graduated from Columbia's MFA program. Her writing has been published in The Portland Review Literary Journal, Paper Street Press, Tantalum, We Still Like, and Zyzzyva, and by Invisible City Audio Tours. She is the author of the novel Girlchild.
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Read an Excerpt

Girlchild

teeth

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 these 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."

I know what they hide when they hide those teeth. By the time Mama was fifteen she had three left that weren't already black or getting there, and jagged. She had a long time to learn how to cover that smile. No matter how she looked otherwise, tall and long-legged, long brown hair, pale skin that held its flush, it was this something vulnerable about the mouth and eyes too that kept men coming back to her. The men would likely say this was due to her willingness to welcome them back, and Mama may have been an easy lay, but I'm cool with that because any easy lay will tell you, making it look easy is a lot of work. Still, no matter how fine she looked, especially after she got herself a set of fine white dentures for her twenty-fifth birthday, Mama never forgot how ugly she felt with those snaggly teeth. In her head, she never stopped being a rotten-mouthed girl.

It's the same with being feebleminded. No matter how smart you might appear to be later with your set of diplomas on their fine white parchment, the mistakes you made before the real lessons sunk in never fade. No matter how high you hang those documents with their official seals and signatures, how shining and polished the frame, your reflection in the glass will never let you forget how stupid you felt when you didn't know any better. You never stop seeing those gaps in your smile.

Copyright © 2012 by Tupelo Hassman All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 40 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(13)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(11)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(3)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2012

    unique but strange read -

    different than anything else i've read recently, but i'm not sure i could or would recommend this book to others.

    girl growing up poor, fatherless, in a trailer park, misunderstood, abused, somewhat depressing overall

    author's writing is hard to follow at times

    glad i read it but also glad it's finished

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2012

    Girlchild

    Tupelo Hassman is Shakespeare of the trailer park. Loved reading Girlchild.

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 30, 2012

    Brilliantly Confusing

    I almost gave up on this book, then would read one more short chapter after the other until I got to the end and said, "Well, I'm glad I read that book." I work at a middle school, and this book helped to remind me that not all children have a loving mother and father at home helping them succeed in school and in life. This little girl raised herself, protected her mother from knowing that she was being molested, and evidently was brilliant in school. The book ends the only way it could - with her striking out on her own. Yes, it's hard to follow at times. Then again, the chapter with all the lines blacked out showing what it was like in the dark bathroom ... well, that was brilliant if you have an imagination. So, take your chances if what I've said intrigues you! For those who are interested in knowing more about students who are this age, I also recommend Alice Bliss.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 27, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Not What I Expected

    This book has good moments but it really wasn't what I expected. Not something I'd recommend. I've read better books about traumatic childhood experiences.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2012

    I loved this book. She nailed it - the people in Calle, the girl

    I loved this book. She nailed it - the people in Calle, the girl and her mother and her grandmother; the abuse and wanting to still belong to her mother, and having to figure out how to forgive the fact that she wasn't protected. How hard it was to leave, and how it all stays with you even when you do leave and move on and do better than where you came from . . . I knew this girl once and I knew those people. She totally nailed it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2012

    Ugh

    Hard to follow. Depressing.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2012

    Hard to follow

    I felt that she assumed readers could follow her thoughts more easily than they could. Very depressing concepts and attitude.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 10, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A Lilac Wolf and Stuff Review

    The cover caught my eye. A trailer that looks like it would feel at home in my trailer park but set in the desserts of Nevada.

    I started reading and it knocked me over to read a story that followed my own childhood eerily close. It didn't hide how common child sexual abuse is, but it didn't go into painful detail either. I think it was the perfect balance on such a difficult topic for so many (too many) women.

    This story is not an easy read. It deals with those living in poverty for generations as their own counter-culture. I thought it was brilliant because so much of it range true. Especially how anyone from the government (including or and especially police) is not to be trusted.

    How very hard people work just to get by. During a time when the stereotype of the welfare abusers is running rampant, we see that is stupid because even with welfare, life is hard and lean.

    I thought this was such a sad read, and so well written I literally couldn't put it down. It's not going to be for everyone. The story is written almost like a diary, with the time-frame and memories jumping all over the place without a lot of hints about where you are currently at in Rory Dawn's life. But I absolutely loved it, the story was completely captivating.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 21, 2012

    Beautiful novel that takes on difficult topics---multigeneration

    Beautiful novel that takes on difficult topics---multigenerational poverty and physical and sexual abuse---in a sensitive way. The author's stream of consciousness approach might not be for everyone, but for those who appreciate its lyricism this is an incredible read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2012

    she remembers many of the things that kids do and think to try t

    she remembers many of the things that kids do and think to try to keep themselves sane in an insane world.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 2, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Modern Lit Meets Trailer Park

    Rory Dawn Hendrix is an under-privileged, imaginative young girl, growing up a the low-class trailer park known as "The Calle" (de Las Flores) outside Reno, NV. She is the mother of a teenage mother who is the daughter of a teenage mother as well. There is heartbreak and disappointment in this life, but Rory finds comfort in The Girl Scout Handbook, spelling words and using her imagination to escape. Beautifully written in brief digestible chapters, stream of consciousness and intercalary interludes lend a unique voice to the main character and her coming of age saga. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of modern lit, coming of age novels, serious dramatic themes and anyone who started out with a rough beginning in life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 25, 2012

    Tough book to finih

    Still trying to get through this book.....hate not to finish reading a book that I have paid good money for but it is hard. I guess I should keep my opinion to myself until I finally do finish it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 17, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman is one of those books, that after re

    Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman is one of those books, that after reading other people's reviews, I was dying to read.  And luckily, this book fell into my hands after a library book sale (those are always the best, aren't they?).

    Girlchild is a book about Rory Dawn Hendrix, a girl who lives in the trailer park in Reno with her mother and near her grandmother.  Her life is not beautiful, not wonderful, not uplifting in any way at all.

    But Rory finds a connection with the Girl Scout Handbook, which is her bright shiny way out of the trailer park.

    Will Rory be able to break the cycle and not get pregnant young?  Will she be able to leave the trailer park and set up a new life for herself?  Or will she be just like her mother, stuck in the rut of the trailer park lifestyle forever?

    This is a tough book to read about.  There are issues like sexual abuse, drugs, and drinking.  But the sexual abuse is much less explicit (almost "hidden"), not like in the book Push.

    But similar to Push by Sapphire, Girlchild is a tough read that should be read.  It's a small window into a world that is foreign to most of us, but is REAL.  Don't shy away from it because it's tough: embrace it.

    What do you think about these kinds of tough reads?

    Thanks for reading,

    Rebecca @ Love at First Book

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 7, 2013

    tupelo hassman can write...she can write very well...she can wri

    tupelo hassman can write...she can write very well...she can write so well i still have the taste of paper in my mouth from devouring this book..this girlchild...this chosen one to break the family curse....this all alone girl out in the desert of poverty had to make it out...no matter what it took...ignorance, poverty, abuse, false promises, even death...and the girl scouts of america....lessons taught, observed and learned...rooted for her and cheered her on....this tupelo had a story to tell...and she told it well...thank you ms hassman

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2012

    Loved ot Loved it

    I love a book that can evoke emotion. Even if that emotion is a hard one. I like that she says so much without having to spell out all the gory details. Well done.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2012

    Very disappointing. Depressing, nothing redeeming whatsoever, s

    Very disappointing. Depressing, nothing redeeming whatsoever, strange ending probably intended to convey some kind of hope but which, to me, conveyed nothing more than the final doom of the character. Even the measliest crumbs of anything good happening in the story have a negative angle as viewed through the chronically depressed lens of the characters. Maybe some lives are really like this, but I suspect even the toughest, most disadvantaged lives have a few more positive moments than the lives portrayed here. To add insult to injury, the writing is mediocre, nothing brilliant, inspiring, thought-provoking, often really predictable. Just an unrelenting bad time. If you want a similar idea but well written with much more satisfying insights, read The Glass Castle, a real-life memoir by Jeannette Walls.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2012

    Girl Child

    It was okay.
    Sad that humans treat one another this way!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2012

    Too short

    I liked what I read, but it left you wanting more to the story.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 25, 2012

    Hassman has written a disturbing but lyrical coming of age story

    Hassman has written a disturbing but lyrical coming of age story with a twist (or maybe just twisted). A trailer park is home and the main character provides what little nurturing is available to a dysfunctional set of adults. She tries to imagine what "normal" families are like and is determined to escape the degradation of her surroundings and the self defeating behavior displayed by the sad examples of humanity populating the trailer park. Written with wry, deadpan humor (or sarcasm) the 6th grader explores sexual abuse, alcoholism, the welfare system, incompetent educators, Supreme Court decisions all of which leads her and the reader to conclude that it really, really sucks to be poor in the US. I ached for her as my mother was also toothless and pregnant at 15. I escaped this dreadful life and hope she did too.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2012

    What the.....

    Very hard to follow &understand. I was disappointed I paid to read this.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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