Girlchild - Hassman, Tupelo
Summary: Obsessively following the edicts of the Girl Scouts Handbook in spite of her lack of a troop, young Rory longs to escape the Reno trailer park where she lives with her bartender mother.
In this inventive, exciting debut, Hassman writes a 1980s Reno trailer park into a neon, breathing world. Reno is just like Tahoe, only without anything beautiful. Narrator Rory Dawn, whose mother, simultaneously tripping on acid and giving birth, gave her a name that sounds like a screaming sunrise and calls her girlchild for short, is a grade-schooler when we meet her. Like the 1972 Nobility double-wide she lives in, trailer-park anthropologist Rory's own foundation is lacking, at best. She inventories her mother's alcoholism and mental illness with heartbreaking, childish normalcy. The abuse she suffers at the hands of her inept babysitters turns her into an introverted bookworm who wins spelling bees (until she worries her smarts will alienate her beloved mother) and finds solace in the library. Rory's name fills the circulation card of her school's Girl Scout Handbook, and she earns proficiency badges as a troop of one. Hassman's creatively titled, short, free-form chapters are helium-filled imagination fodder, and Hassman takes what could be trite or unbelievable in less talented hands and makes it entirely the opposite. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.