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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Hattie Ever After, written by Kirby Larson. Delacorte Press, Random House. 2013. $19.99 ages 10 and up

"Aside from learning that he'd roomed at the Sutter, I hadn't made much progress. But I was getting quite the education about this town around the time of the Panama Pacific International Exposition. San Francisco had been determined to show it had completely recovered from the earthquake, and the Exposition was just the ticket for proving that. The marvel drew visitors by the thousands..."

One year after selling her land and most of her possessions, Hattie is working a job in Brown's Boardinghouse in Great Falls, Montana. In a letter to her friend Perilee, she shares her dissatisfaction with her lot in life at the moment:

"The good Lord has quite a sense of humor, plunking me down here in Great Falls, in just the sort of job I left Iowa to escape, though I must confess, it was pure pleasure this past winter to have indoor plumbing. No more walking to the necessary when it's forty below! And I've certainly perfected the essential cleaning skills. I'll have you know I can now make a bed, scour the washbowl, and Hoover-sweep the carpet in a lodger's room in fifteen minutes flat."

Her hard work has enabled her to pay off all of her Uncle Chester's outstanding debts back in Iowa and now allows her to take a job with a travelling acting group...their destination is San Francisco. At least in the big city, Hattie might have a shot at finding her dream job...newspaper reporter.

Once again, Hattie tells her own story, with letters and newspaper articles adding interest. There are more people for Hattie to meet, including the troupe she works with, a working reporter, Ruby who provides a connection to her Uncle Chester...some prove worthy, others do not. We learn that Charlie is back from the war safe and sound, has never loved anyone as he loves Hattie, and he wants her to be his wife.

Hattie cannot let her dream of reporting die; so, she refuses the marriage proposal by explaining that she must pursue it. Hurt, Charlie acknowledges her need to be independent, accepts a job in Seattle and moves on. As we learned earlier, Hattie is a fiercely determined young woman. Her skills as a writer are recognized and she is given assignments of varying importance. Always present in her thoughts is Charlie, his support and his wish that Hattie find peace and happiness.

Hattie is adept at counting on herself to find her place at the newspaper, and in life. Her disappointment in two people she trusts only makes her a stronger person, and more aware of her true feelings for Charlie. Bravo, Hattie!

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