What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hattie Ever After is the sequel to Newbery Honor Book Hattie Big Sky, and describes life in San Francisco in 1919. Readers will learn some history, including the names of some fascinating people; they will especially learn what it was like for women entering the workforce at the time. There's not much to raise eyebrows here, though there's some romance, including a steamy kiss, and some drinking and smoking among adult characters. Hattie is smart, dedicated, and brave about pursuing her dreams of becoming a reporter. She makes mistakes -- in journalism and in life -- but learns from them. Mostly, she learns that it's not mistakes that matter. Rather, if "you didn't open your heart up to people ... that was what made you a failure."
What's the story?
With dreams of becoming a professional reporter -- and finding something out about the mysterious uncle who left her his homestead -- Hattie moves from Montana to San Francisco, landing a job as a cleaning lady at the Chronicle. Soon, through hard work and some strong advocates, she moves up in the ranks, from part-time researcher to stringer -- to reporter. She even has the chance to fly in an airplane, talk to President Wilson about his proposal for the League of Nations, and tell the story of other women making their way in the workforce. But, in order to pursue her dreams, she has to keep puttting off her childhood friend Charlie, who wants her to move to Seattle and settle down with him. And her research turns up some nasty family secrets that shake her confidence.
Is it any good?
Fans of Larson's Hattie Big Sky will find much the same narrator here: Hattie is strong, good-hearted and brave about sharing her mistakes as she tries to become a reporter. HATTIE EVER AFTER is well researched, and readers will get a good sense of city life just before the 1920s, from the era's fashion and politics to what it was like for women to fight their way into the workforce. The author even treats readers to a few postcards of San Francisco from the time. Some of Hattie's reporting breaks seem a bit too fortuitous, such as being stuck in an elevator with the president. Likewise, a storyline about Hattie's friendship with her uncle's mysterious former girlfriend seems contrived; readers will mistrust Ruby from the beginning. In the end, though, readers will cheer as plucky Hattie works hard to become the person she wants to be -- and get everything she ever wanted.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about Hattie's life in San Francisco. How would it be different for a young person moving to a city today? What tools does she use as a reporter that seem antiquated?
Also, as a reporter Hattie first focuses on women who entered the workforce during World War I -- and wanted to stay employed after men returned home.
How has the treatment of women at work changed since 1919? Are there still jobs and industries that women are fighting to get into? Some parents and teachers may use this story to bring up more contemporary topics, such as the Paycheck Fairness Act.