Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Hattie Ever After

Hattie Ever After

Kirby Larson
Historical Fiction
For ages 12 and up
Random House, 2013   ISBN: 978-0385737463

Not that long ago Hattie Brooks lost her Uncle Chester’s prairie claim when hail destroyed the crops she had planted. She had no choice but to leave Montana’s prairie and its wide open skies and start a new life somewhere else. Now Hattie is working at a boarding house in Great Falls, Montana, doing the kinds of chores that she has always despised. Still, she has a roof over her head, food to eat, she is earning some money, and now that she has paid off the last of her uncle’s debts, Hattie is free to decide what she wants to do next.

   Since coming to Great Falls six months ago, Hattie has had plenty of time to think about her future. When she was in Iowa she wrote little articles for a local newspaper, and now she wants to try her luck at becoming a proper newspaper reporter, a woman reporter like Ida Tarbell or Nellie Bly. She knows that her sweetheart, Charlie, would like her to marry her, but Hattie does not feel ready for marriage yet, and how can she be a reporter if she is married?

   One day a group of actors arrives at the boarding house, and when their wardrobe mistress runs off with an actor, Hattie is offered, and takes, the job of being the new wardrobe mistress. Though her sewing skills are rather rudimentary, she jumps at the opportunity because the next stop for the Venturing Varietals is San Francisco. The job with the Venturing Varietals arrived at the perfect moment because a letter to Uncle Chester from a woman in San Francisco has just found its way to Hattie. She feels that she should personally tell the lady who wrote the letter, one Ruby Danvers, that Uncle Chester is dead. The lady sent Uncle Chester a love token and Hattie feels a connection with Ruby, total stranger though she is.

   Before Hattie leaves Great Falls, Charlie turns up. He is home from the war, alive and well, and is off to Seattle to take a job at the Boeing Airplane Company that he was offered. He wants Hattie to join him in Seattle and is disappointed that she wants to go to San Francisco instead. He cannot understand what she hopes to find in that city.

   Once Hattie gets to San Francisco, she continues to work for the Venturing Varietals for a little while, until she manages to get a job at the offices of the San Francisco Chronicle. Alas, the job she secures is not in the newsroom. Instead, she is one of cleaners who works at night to get the newspaper offices cleaned up. Hattie refuses to be discouraged  by the lowly nature of her new job. After all, everyone has to start somewhere, and she is willing to work her way up to becoming a reporter.

   Being a go-getter in every sense of the word, Hattie does not work on the janitorial staff for long. First she is offered the opportunity to help reporters do research, which is something that she is very good at doing. Then she is given an unusual break; she earns the chance to report on a baseball game. The editor of the paper is suspicious of women reporters, but he cannot deny that Hattie can write, and that she is enterprising and hardworking.

   Hattie’s life gets rapidly better and better. Surely before long she will be writing real articles using her own byline. Surely soon she will achieve her dream.

   Kirby Larson’s first book about Hattie, Hattie Big Sky, received wide acclaim and was the winner of a Newbery Honor in 2007. It is truly wonderful that she has brought Hattie back to continue the young woman’s story. The author gives readers a picture of what it was like to be a young and ambitious woman in San Francisco in 1919, allowing us experience this world through Hattie’s eyes. 

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