HELLIE JONDOE by Randall Platt


Age Range: 14 & up
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New York City in 1918 is a tough place for an orphan girl, and Hellie (born Helena) survives by hanging with her brother Harry’s gang, picking pockets and convincing everyone she’s a boy. When Harry gets shot in a gang quarrel, Hellie is devastated; all her savvy and grit came from Harry, the only person she trusts. Harry, knowing that her situation is precarious, convinces her he is dead and sells her to a shady outfit peddling orphans on the trains west. Completely uncivilized, Hellie quickly convinces the smarmy Miss Bergeson she is as unadoptable as the facially disfigured Lizzie and little club-footed Joey. Hellie is looking for a free ride but is stymied when all three children are sold to a woman in Oregon with a big spread and not one ounce of human kindness visible. Has Hellie met her match? The third-person account moves quickly, and the dialogue is liberally sprinkled with period slang (glossed in the back). Despite an unfortunate cover, this is solid historical fiction with a scrappy heroine who is genuinely tough and a true survivor. Irrepressible and irreverent. (Historical fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-89672-663-5
Page count: 224pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2009


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