Schlitz, Laura Amy. 2006. A Drowned Maiden's Hair.
<em>On the morning of the best day of her life, Maud Flynn was locked in the outhouse singing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."</em>
What a first line! It continues, "She was locked in because she was being punished. The Barbary Asylum for Female Orphans was overcrowded; every room in the wide brick building was in use. There were very few places where one could imprison a child who had misbehaved. The outhouse was one such place, and very suitable for the purpose, because the children hated it." That says something doesn't it. Sets the tone, I mean. This is one of those orphan stories. We learn on the next page that there are two women coming, the Misses Hawthorne, who are looking to adopt a cute, well-behaved child. Maud as an independent free-thinker, and as an eleven year old clearly isn't the girl for them, right? The powers that be know that no one would ever voluntarily take Maud off their hands. But they weren't reckoning on the Misses Hawthorne being quite the way they were either.
It is Maud--the loud, singing, often-rebellious, Maud--that the Misses Hawthorne--especially Hyacinth are drawn to that day. It is Maud that is the girl for them. Maud is ecstatic. She's wanted. She's really and truly wanted. She'll have a home, a real home. A home with three guardians, three protectors. It's her dream come true.
But Maud realizes slowly that the dream isn't quite a good one as she'd hoped. There is something not quite right, something secret, something mysterious about the whole affair, the whole ordeal. Maud won't be kept in the dark for long....
Maud is quite a heroine. You can't help but enjoy spending time with her. And I thoroughly enjoyed A Drowned Maiden's Hair. It may not be for everyone. I could imagine it not sitting so well with some types--those that feel spiritualism is not appropriate for children's literature even if these so-called mediums are phonies and no ghosts actually appear. It's an emotional story--a compelling journey of one girl's quest for love, acceptance, and home--with a satisfying conclusion.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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