Thursday, December 26, 2013
Review: Hattie Ever After
Hattie Ever After
By Kirby Larson
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, February 2013
About the Book
After leaving Uncle Chester’s homestead claim, orphan Hattie Brooks throws a lasso around a new dream, even bigger than the Montana sky. She wants to be a reporter, knowing full well that a few pieces published in the Arlington News will not suffice. Real reporters must go to Grand Places, and do Grand Things, like Hattie’s hero Nellie Bly.
Another girl might be stymied by this, but Hattie has faced down a hungry wolf and stood up to a mob of angry men. Nothing can squash her desire to write for a big city newspaper. A letter and love token from Uncle Chester’s old flame in San Francisco fuels that desire and Hattie jumps at the opportunity to get there by working as a seamstress for a traveling acting troupe. This could be her chance to solve the mystery of her “scoundrel” uncle and, in the process, help her learn more about herself.
But Hattie must first tell Charlie that she will not join him in Seattle. Even though her heart approves of Charlie’s plan for their marriage, her mind fears that saying yes to him would be saying no to herself. Hattie holds her own in the big city, literally pitching her way to a byline, and a career that could be even bigger than Nellie Bly’s. But can making headlines compensate for the pain of betrayal and lost love? Hattie must dig deep to find her own true place in the world.
Hattie Ever After is the sequel to Hattie Big Sky. I loved, loved, loved Hattie Big Sky. I think I loved Hattie’s determination as her inner strength is tested time and time again. I think I loved the relationships, the friendships, as Hattie makes a place for herself in a sometimes unfriendly world or environment. I think I loved the atmosphere. It read like a good old-fashioned pioneer story.
Hattie Ever After has a very different feel to it. Hattie has had the opportunity to settle down with her sweetheart, Charlie, but has chosen to be independent and see the world for herself. In Hattie Ever After, Hattie is living in San Francisco trying to get her start—her real start—as a reporter at a newspaper. She has a job there; it’s just a cleaning job, a night job. She’s happy to have a job; she’s happy to be making some money. But if only her research and instincts pay off and lead to something.
But Hattie finds life isn’t that easy or simple . . .
I didn’t love Hattie Ever After as much as Hattie Big Sky. I didn’t enjoy the San Francisco setting as much. I also had a harder time establishing connections with the other characters. Hattie was Hattie, and I love her. That hasn’t changed. But did I enjoy meeting any of the other characters? I’m not sure. Did I find the history intriguing? Yes, to a certain extent. There were women who were struggling to find their voice and have real careers outside the home, women wanting opportunities and respect. And I appreciated Hattie wanting to interview these women and working on a piece highlighting the women she met and admired. The story is also quite realistic, I imagine. Both Hattie Big Sky and Hattie Ever After are realistic in their not-movie endings.
Hattie was extremely vulnerable in Hattie Ever After, and it was hard for me to watch her make mistakes and stumble because of her innocence and sincerity.
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