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Girlchild
Hassman, Tupelo
Adult Fiction HASSMAN

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Blighted opportunity and bad choices revisit three generations of women in a Reno, Nev., trailer park in these affecting dispatches by debut novelist Hassman. Narrator Rory Dawn Hendrix, "R.D.," is growing up in the late '60s on the dusty calle, where families scrape by on low-paying jobs and government assistance, everything is broken down, violence barely suppressed, babysitting shared, and "uncle" is more often than not a euphemism for child molester. "Smokey, Barney, Johnny Law, Pig, uncles with their badges, with their belt buckles, say, 'Hey Sugar, Toots, Sweet Thing, is your mama home?' hand already through the already ripped screen door, finger on the latch." Teenage pregnancies dogged both R.D.'s capricious mother, Jo, a waitress with four grown sons, and grandmother Shirley Rose, an inveterate gambler employed at the keno ticket counter who couldn't keep R.D.'s grandfather from sexually abusing R.D. and her sisters, and told R.D. to "keep her legs closed if she wanted to keep her future open." As bad as it is, there's some hope that this girl, with her early aptitude at spelling, will escape the stigma of being "feebleminded." Poring over a secondhand copy of The Girl Scout Handbook, with its how-to emphasis on honor and duty, comforts R.D., especially when babysat by Carol, a brutalized neighbor girl, who leaves R.D. alone with her predatory father, "the Hardware Man." Hassman's characters are hounded by a relentless, recurring poverty and ignorance, and by shame, so that the sins of the mothers keep repeating, and suicide is often the only way out. Despite a few jarring moments of moralizing, this debut possesses powerful writing and unflinching clarity. Agent: Bill Clegg, WME Entertainment. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Hassman's debut is a brutally realistic portrait of trailer park America. Growing up with her bartender single mother and Grandma in Calle de los Flores, outside of Reno, NV, Rory Dawn Hendrix scours her copy of the Girl Scout Handbook-checked out many times from the school library-in efforts to break out of the mold of poverty and sexual abuse that has been fashioned for her. By sharing her opinions of Handbook entries, found letters and social worker reports, family memories and haunting, half-remembered atrocities, Rory puts together a scrapbook of the Calle that also records her escape. Verdict This is a gorgeous first novel, as humorous as it is heartbreaking. Some will see similarities between Hassman and National Book Award recipient Jaimy Gordon (Lord of Misrule), and fans of coming-of-age novels will fall in love with Rory's story.-Mara Dabrishus, Ursuline Coll. Lib., Pepper Pike, OH (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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