At Home & Living
A Book Review: Hattie Ever After
Soon after Hattie Big Sky was released, readers started asking what happened to plucky Hattie Brooks after she had to say goodbye to her Montana homestead. Certainly, by the time Kirby Larson’s first chapter book won a Newbery Honor Award in 2007, readers were clamoring for more. Several years and books later, the local author has finished that sequel: Hattie Ever After, which was released in February.
The book picks up the story of Hattie after she has failed, despite heroic efforts, to establish her claim on the homestead her mystery Uncle Chester left to her. Hattie is cooking and cleaning in a boarding house and searching for a way to realize her new dream: becoming a newspaper reporter, like her personal heroine, Nellie Bly.
Hattie takes a job as costume mistress with a theater troupe to make her way to San Francisco. She discovers a city that has recovered from the Great Earthquake of 1906 and is brimming with life, as reported by the dailies on Newspaper Row: the Examiner, the Call and the Chronicle.
Hattie feels like a hayseed in bustling San Francisco, but she also feels a great deal of excitement at the opportunities the city has to offer. Indeed, San Francisco has a lot to teach Hattie about ambition, trust, friendship and the challenges faced by working women in the years after the Great War.
Hattie Ever After is a wonderful sequel to Larson’s award-winning tale of the orphan girl who worked so hard to try and make a home in Hattie Big Sky.
Hattie’s upbeat and steadfast boyfriend from back home reappears in Hattie Ever After, hoping that Hattie will come and make a home with him in Seattle. But, thankfully, Larson doesn’t fall into the cliché storyline of: “Do I choose marriage or career?” Hattie travels a more nuanced path, with enough twists to keep the reader engaged.
You also get a nice feel for San Francisco life in the early 20th century – not only from Hattie’s adventures and the people she meets, but also from the time she spends in the Chronicle’s morgue researching both her uncle Chester’s past and stories for the reporters there. We get to see the “breaking news” of Woodrow Wilson’s trip to San Francisco as part of his tour to sell the League of Nations to the American people, and we follow Hattie on a daring ride in one of William Boeing’s seaplanes.
In Hattie Ever After Larson creates a rich sense of time and place, even as Hattie faces the timeless struggle of trying to chase her dreams and trying to discover where she really belongs.
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Hattie Ever After
By Kirby Larson
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $16.99; ebook, $9.99
Recommended for ages 8-12