Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson | Review
By Kirby Larson
Age Range: 12 and up
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (February 12, 2013)
What to Expect: New opportunities, becoming independent, newspaper reporting, early 20th century challenges for women, making choices, learning to judge people
In this sequel to Hattie Big Sky, Hattie comes to San Francisco as a wardrobe mistress for a vaudeville show. But Hattie wants to be a newspaper reporter like Nellie Bly. She takes a job with the night cleaning staff at The Chronicle, hoping it will lead somehow to her goals. In an unpredictable way, it seems to do just that: Ned, a reporter at The Chronicle, takes a romantic interest in Hattie and helps her get small research assignments for the reporters.
Hattie also has unfinished business on behalf of the uncle who left her the farm she homesteaded in Montana. A note to Uncle Chester from a woman in San Francisco named Ruby Danvers hints at romance and suggests Ruby doesn’t know he’s deceased. Hattie takes it upon herself to look Ruby up and break the news. A fast friendship follows.
To complicate matters, Charlie Hawley, a high school friend, is becoming more than a friend. His job with Boeing takes him to Seattle early in the book. When an assignment brings him to San Francisco just as opportunities are unfolding for Hattie, she is pulled two ways.
“My heart had no right to take over like this. It was a hammer making crooked nails out of all my plans to be a writer. Not a wife. I shot a cranky prayer heavenward, demanding to know why the good Lord had given Charlie Hawley eyes that made a girl forget everything she was working toward.”
Details of 1919 San Francisco plunge a reader in the heart of the city with all it’s bustling wonders, and one of the book’s delights is the fresh imagery: Hattie, from country towns in Montana and, earlier, Iowa, sees San Francisco through a country girl eyes. The receptionist at The Chronicle is “gussied up”. People milling in the streets roil “thick and dark as a summer grasshopper hatch.” When Hattie runs out of ideas, her mind is “as dry as a summer field”.
Despite more than one betrayal, Hattie remains undaunted in her dreams. It’s hard to imagine this book is the end of the series, as Hattie takes on a new challenge at book’s end. This book will appeal to 12-to17-year old girls who like stories about independent, spunky young women and historical fiction with a touch of romance.
Hattie Ever After was reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan.