Review / Hand in Hand

20210909ma_3317Book: Hand in Hand (2016)
Author: Jean Little
Genre: MG, Historical (1880s)

Quote from the book …
At long last, they got word that the teacher was on her way. The night before she was to arrive, Martha lay awake, trying to imagine how life would be once Miss Annie Sullivan walked in the door.


1) Ever since I was a girl, I’ve been fascinated by the story of Helen Keller. When I see a new title I haven’t read before, I am instantly drawn to pick up the book. And this book is definitely in that category. It’s the story of Helen Keller BEFORE the arrival of Anne Sullivan. (The teacher shows up about half-way through the book.)

2) The narrator is Martha Washington, a young Black servant in the Keller household. According the Jean Little’s research, Helen Keller herself mentions the existence of Martha as part of her early life. It was definitely an interesting POV … Martha does really like Helen all that much (she was extremely spoiled as a young child), and yet she is sent to play with and keep an eye on Helen.

3) I could wait for the teacher, Miss Sullivan, to arrive! Again, we get to see her through Martha’s eyes, which is really interesting.

4) I loved Martha’s mother! In the story, she’s the family’s cook. The story opens with her and Martha and the fact that Martha needs to befriend the hard-to-like Helen. I like how the mother pushes her daughter to see that spark in Helen that would eventually come to light.

5) Was Martha present for the famous W-A-T-E-R incident? Maybe, maybe not. But this account puts her right there. Right there where Helen finally has a moment of understanding that will change her life. That part of the story always gets me!


I would definitely recommend for anybody interested in the Helen Keller story. I liked Martha’s POV and it was neat to read the familiar story through her eyes.



Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

7 thoughts on “Review / Hand in Hand

  1. I missed this one when it came out so I am glad you have reintroduced it on today’s MMGM. Helen Keller is always a draw for me as her story is fascinating and one you never forget. I’ll be tracking a copy of this one down at the local library.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember being fascinated by Helen Keller when I was a kid. This is the kind of book that would have definitely appealed to me. Putting it on my tbr list.


  3. I took a moment to look Helen Keller up on Wikipedia, since the only thing I knew about her was her learning to communicate in spite of being deaf and blind, which I suspected wasn’t her only achievement in life—and it wasn’t! She is an impressive individual, and this sounds like a fascinating account of her life. Thanks so much for the great review!


  4. What an interesting point of view character. That’s what happens when doing research. One will run across one interesting factoid and that changes everything. I do love the Helen Keller story. I will have to find a copy of this. Thanks for telling me about it.


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