Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Review: The Farmerettes

Publish March 5, 2015

Readers looking for a meaningful dose of Canadiana will find it with The Farmerettes, the latest YA novel by Gisela Tobien Sherman. Set against the backdrop of the World War II, this coming-of-age story shines a quietly heroic light on the lives of six young women fresh out of high school, doing their part for the war effort on Highberry Farm in Winona, Ontario, during the summer of 1943. Working for the Farm Service Forces, the six (along with the other sixty-four young women also staying and helping on the farm) tend to the crops and livestock because most able-bodied men have gone overseas to fight in Europe or are working in local factories. There’s emotionally fragile Isabel, who’s pining for her fiancé Billy who has gone to war; wealthy Binxie, dealing with a family who’s disappointed with her employment choice; practical workhorse Jean, whose family owns Highberry Farm; Peggy, the farm flirt, chatterbox, and social convenor; cerebral Helene, whose wages help her single mother and younger brothers back home; and there’s the girl with the yellow scarf, simply referred to as “X,” who harbours a soul-crushing secret. Alternating between each character, this enlightening book adeptly weaves together vignettes of backbreaking farm work, budding romances, and family tragedies, with the simple pleasures of rural life, such as corn roasts and barn dances, glorious sunsets and bountiful harvests. Part history lesson, part eye-opening slice-of-life, The Farmerettes is a touching, well-paced story of girls bound together by a sense of civic duty and desperate circumstance that forever changed the definition of “women’s work.” Their journey to adulthood, brimming with lifelong memories of love, heartbreak, friendship, self-empowerment, and hope, will linger long after the last page is turned.

The Farmerettes

Gisela Tobien Sherman
Second Story Press
ISBN 13: 9781927583647

Jennifer D. Foster
Jennifer D. Foster Jennifer D. Foster is a Toronto-based freelance editor, mentor, and writer, specializing in book and custom publishing, magazines, and marketing and communications. She loves kidlit, greyhounds, Japan, pumpkin pie and yard sales.  

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