The Warden's Daughter
By Jerry Spinelli
Random House, 2017. Fiction.
Cammie O'Reilly's life has always been a little bit different. Most kids have backyards, she has the Women's Yard. Most kids have treehouses, she has The Tower. Most kids have mothers, she doesn't - yet. Her own mother was killed in an accident saving her life when she was just a baby, leaving her alone with her father, the prison warden. The summer Cammie turns thirteen, she decides to find herself a new mother to do all the motherly things she misses out on, and she picks Eloda Pupko - the prison trustee who acts as her housekeeper. As the summer goes by, Eloda resists the role of mother that Cammie tries to thrust on her, as Cammie's anger at her different life bubbles deeper and deeper.
The Warden's Daughter is a great historical fiction novel filled with really interesting (if not always likable) characters. Set in the same same fictional town as Manaic Magee, this book shows Jerry Spinelli at his best - which is very good. At times, Cammie can be a real pain and many readers will have trouble identifying with her actions, but this makes her character development more satisfying. This book is filled with very real emotion and tangible frustration in the midst of stretches of truly beautiful language. This book will likely strike a chord with more advanced middle graders.