Although more than a year too young for the position, almost-17-year-old Kitty takes a job as a Harvey Girl, one of the well-trained waitresses that staffed a national restaurant chain serving rail passengers from the late-19th to mid-20th centuries.
Frustrated that her father no longer has the money to send her to college, budding journalist Kitty applies on a whim, defying family expectations, to become a Harvey Girl. She’s chosen along with outgoing flapper Cordelia, and after a month of rigorous training, they’re sent to work at the Harvey House in Belén, New Mexico. Kitty records her experiences in her diary, sometimes in too-extensive detail. In New Mexico, she slowly develops a romantic relationship with a railroad worker, Gus, and gets to know the Latino culture of the area. As her writing skills improve, she begins to sell articles—included in the text—to the local newspaper. Kitty does a good job of describing the personalities of her co-workers, and because she is so descriptive, the era—the late 1920s—is also neatly depicted. This effort is most likely to appeal to readers who have enjoyed but outgrown the Dear America and American Girl series, but other readers may find the tale lacks sufficient tension to sustain interest through the extended narrative. A smattering of period photographs add flavor.
A slowly paced and occasionally even tedious depiction of a small slice of American railroad history. (Historical fiction. 10-14)