by Tupelo Hassman

"The only thing harder to come by around here than a suitcase is a brand-new book, but I keep the Girl Scout motto as close to my heart as the promise anyway: Be Prepared."

Rory Dawn Hendrix is a 5 year old Girl Scout. She has a copy of the Girl Scout Handbook which she checked out the library so many times that the librarian let her keep it.  She lives with her mother and grandmother in the Calle de las Floras, or the Calle for short, a trailer park in Reno.  And she's the only member of her Girl Scout troop.  

The story of Rory Dawn, the only girl child after four older brothers, is as rough and ragged as her mother's trailer.  The reader follows R.D. through her childhood and teen years, through nights of sitting at her mother's bar stool waiting for her to finish her shift, dark nights staying quiet for the Hardware Man, and afternoons of memorizing her Girl Scout Handbook. 

R.D. is determined to become something more than her mother and grandmother, who both had children of their own by the time they blew out the candles on their fifteenth birthday cakes. She is bold, sassy, and a little too smart for the Calle. At times, she is confused and troubled, at others she is strong and brave. R.D. has enough spirit to survive the desert, shelter herself from the bright lights and call of the slot machines, and earn all of the badges in her Handbook.

Hassman is an extremely talented writer.  Rory's life story is told in narrative, through letters, and in social worker case files. Although R.D. was a small child at the beginning of the story, it is easy to identify with her.  She grows up quickly, and learns many adult lessons before their time.  I loved her toughness and resilience.  I loved Rory Dawn; she is a strong female protagonist who makes her own choices in life, and doesn't become what everyone expects her to become.  This beautifully crafted novel brought light to familial ties, customs, and things usually left unsaid in the strange trailer park subculture of Calle, Nevada.

♥ Meg xoxo

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