The Hired Girl, which just took home the Scott O’Dell Award for distinguished historical fiction for young people, follows Joan Skraggs, who yearns for real life and true love, just like the heroines in her beloved novels. But what hope is there for adventure, beauty, or art on a hardscrabble farm where the work never ends?
Though The Hired Girl is now an award-winning title – and was named one of the New York Times notable children’s books of 2015 – it’s earned heavy critique from diversity advocates, including its portrayal of Native Americans and the attempt of the main character to convert characters who believe in Judaism. Justina Ireland looked at the defenses of The Hired Girl’s problematic aspects and wonders if those who aren’t white or Christian are part of the audience, which she followed up in a separate blog post, asking “just how long is a reader supposed to endure problematic content before they decide it is offensive?”
The winners of the 2015 National Jewish Book Awards will be honored on March 9 at a gala awards celebration at the Center for Jewish History in New York City.
Would you have chosen The Hired Girl? Sound off in the comments below!