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Extended Audio Sample Girlchild, by Tupelo Hassman Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.00081234768481 out of 53.00081234768481 out of 53.00081234768481 out of 53.00081234768481 out of 53.00081234768481 out of 5 3.00 (2,462 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Tupelo Hassman Narrator: Tupelo Hassma Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The "girlchild" of this raw straightforward debut audiobook is Rory Dawn Hendrix, whose life begins on the Calle de los Flores, a poverty-stricken neighborhood in Reno once envisioned to be a high-end development to serve as a playground for the rich.

It is the 1980s, long after the funding for the dream community dried up in a bad economy, and the Calle is now a collection of trailers with a truck stop, where Rory's mother Jo works. For a time Rory's grandmother also lives on the Calle; like Rory's own mother, her life was shaped by a teenage pregnancy, subsequent divorce and poverty, and life choices made mostly by the county social services agency.

Rory's grandmother tells her, "One of us has to make it out of here, and it's gonna have to be you".

Considering Rory's circumstances, it's a tall order. Her Mom often works the night shift and goes out drinking afterwards; Rory frequently finds herself left with virtual strangers to care for her, or worse, alone. To fill the time Rory reads The Girl Scout Handbook, completing projects and awarding herself badges as she achieves her goals. It's not long before Rory is reading everything she can get her hands on.

Then, one day at school, the "Briefcase Man" comes in and shows her some charts and graphs with her name at the top of all the squiggly lines, explaining to her that she's the smartest girl in the school. She soon finds herself at the County Spelling Bee, and it seems like she might really make it out.

"Girlchild" is not the first story if its kind, but it's honest and unpredictable, told in Rory's own voice, through social worker home visit reports, and sections of the Girl Scout Handbook. Some of the brief chapters consist of word problems that make no sense, reflecting the unsolvable problems in Rory's world.

Prior to publishing this novel, Tupelo Hassman's work had appeared in The Independent, The Boston Globe, Harper's Bazaar, and Literary Journal, among others. Hassman lives in San Francisco's East Bay, and was the first American ever to win London's Literary Death Match.

Rory Hendrix is the least likely of Girl Scouts. She hasn’t got a troop or even a badge to call her own. But she’s checked the Handbook out from the elementary school library so many times that her name fills all the lines on the card, and she pores over its surreal advice (uniforms, disposing of outgrown; the right use of your body; finding your way when lost) for tips to get off the Calle: that is, the Calle de las Flores, the Reno trailer park where she lives with her mother, Jo, the sweet-faced, hard-luck bartender at the Truck Stop.

Rory’s been told that she is one of the “third-generation bastards surely on the road to whoredom.” But she’s determined to prove the county and her own family wrong. Brash, sassy, vulnerable, wise, and terrified, she struggles with her mother’s habit of trusting the wrong men, and the mixed blessing of being too smart for her own good. From diary entries, social workers’ reports, half-recalled memories, arrest records, family lore, Supreme Court opinions, and her grandmother’s letters, Rory crafts a devastating collage that shows us her world even as she searches for the way out of it.

Tupelo Hassman’s Girlchild is a heart-stopping and original debut.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Tupelo Hassman’s lyrical and fiercely accomplished first novel brings us three generations of Hendrix women washed up in ‘the Calle’…In Hassman’s skilled hands, what could have been an unrelenting chronicle of desolation becomes a lovely tribute to the soaring, defiant spirit of a survivor.”


  • “Beautiful…Ms. Hassman is such a poised storyteller that her prose practically struts. Her words are as elegant as they are fierce. A voice as fresh as hers is so rare that at times I caught myself cheering…I don’t know about you, but I’d go anywhere with this writer.”

    New York Times

  • Girlchild…unfolds a compelling, layered narrative told by a protagonist with a voice so fresh, original, and funny you’ll be in awe. This novel rocks…In Girlchild Tupelo Hassman has created a character you’ll never forget. Rory Dawn Hendrix of the Calle has as precocious and endearing a voice as Holden Caulfield of Central Park. When you finish this novel, your sorrow at turning the last page will be eased by your excitement at what this sassy, talented author will do next.”

    Boston Globe

  • “The real pleasure of the book comes from following the wisecracking, tough and sensitive Rory as she struggles to survive and escape the sort of life no girl should have to lead.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “In Girlchild, Hassman’s spunky, shy and almost accidentallyintelligent heroine, Rory Dawn Hendrix, is living in a trailer park outside Reno, ‘south of nowhere.’ Her mother, Jo, is a truck-stop bartender prone to trusting the wrong men…The book’s portraiture is vivid and hauntingly unfamiliar; Hassman’s personal history matters less than the artistic care she takes here—and she takes a great deal of care.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “Rory Hendrix will soon be a character readers around the country will know. She’s the young heroine of Tupelo Hassman’s debut Girlchild, a novel that drops us into her home in a Reno trailer park and invites us to be the only other member of her Girl Scout troop. With humor, warmth, and unflinching prose, Girlchild is a youth survival story of the very first rate.”

    Publishers Weekly, pick of the week

  • “This is a gorgeous first novel, as humorous as it is heartbreaking. Some will see similarities between Hassman and National Book Award recipient Jaimy Gordon (Lord of Misrule), and fans of coming-of-age novels will fall in love with Rory’s story.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Kelley Tackett | 2/16/2014

    " Debut book by a fantastic author. I loved this book! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Kristina | 2/14/2014

    " From the beginning, I had to force myself to keep reading. I pushed myself to 60% of the book and gave up. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Leslie Thompson | 2/10/2014

    " I have the highest praise for this young author, who conquers difficult subject matter with poetic and descriptive prose. How does a teenager from an impoverished small town survive so many disadvantages? How does she break the chain of abuse and addiction, when her role models are only one or two generations away? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Kate Kirkpatrick | 2/5/2014

    " Living in Reno myself was the reason I chose to pick up Tupelo Hassman's debut novel. But I read it quickly because it kept my interest and I enjoyed her use of various types of chapters, including made-up chapters from the Girl Scout Handbook, math narrative problems, and county reports. (However, I did find the blacked-out "redacted" chapters annoying.) "

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About the Author

Tupelo Hassman graduated from Columbia’s MFA program. Her writing has been published in the Portland Review Literary Journal, Paper Street Press, Tantalum, We Still Like, and Zyzzyva, and by 100 Word Story, Five Chapters.com, and Invisible City Audio Tours.