What if you were asked to lie, about something fairly small; a lie that really didn’t make your life worse, or anyone else’s, but brought you wonderful things? This is the dilemma Maud faces in A Drowned Maiden’s Hair: A Melodrama by Laura Amy Schlitz. Maud is an orphan living the not so happy life of one around the turn of the century. In fact when we first meet Maud she is locked in the outhouse because she has been bad, again. While in the privy, she has a conversation with a woman outside the door, who, to Maud’s utter amazement and delight chooses to adopt her minutes later. Maud is taken back to live with the woman, whose name is Miss Hyacinth, and Hyacinth’s two sisters. Quite quickly Maud is asked to conceal her existence from anyone outside of the sisters’ house. While Maud enjoys the new perks of her life – pretty clothes, lots of food and quite a bit of freedom – she realizes quickly that the sisters’, and Hyacinth in particular want something from Maud. Maud has to decide if she can play along with what they want, or find out if she does have a conscience after all.
Maud is one of those characters you just begin to pull for right away. She has tons of street smarts and knows right away something is off about these old women – after all they adopted her! She knows she isn’t a good catch! So why have they done this? However, even Maud can’t figure out just how bizarre their plan is until she is right smack in the middle of it, and wondering how she can get out. This book has lots of twists and just when you think you have it figured, BAM, something jumps out at you.
Recommended for 6th grade and up.