Diary of a Waitress by Carolyn Meyer

I’ve loved Carolyn Meyer’s (2015) Diary of a Waitress: The Not-So-Glamorous Life of a Harvey Girl (Calkins Creek) ever since I picked it up! 

Diary of a Waitress is a young adult historical fiction novel about Kitty, a girl who leaves home to become a waitress at one of the Harvey Houses along the Santa Fe Railroad. Though her book is fictional, Meyer did a lot of research about the Harvey Girls before writing this book.  Here are three reasons why I LOVE this book.


Diary of a Waitress is a book about writing. I found myself relating to Kitty’s passion for writing. Though she has to abandon her dreams of going to college, Kitty never gives up her dream to write and writes several pieces for the local paper throughout her time as a Harvey Girl. Meyer composes the novel in the format of Kitty’s diary entries.

I found myself intrigued with the Harvey Girls. Meyer shares fictional stories of several Harvey Girls, girls who for a variety of reasons, find themselves working in the Harvey Houses along the Sante Fe Railroad, including the Belen Harvey House.  I found myself wrapped up in these girls’ resiliency and stories.  I felt connected to Kitty, a good girl who always wants to do right, as she experiences love for the first time.  And I also felt for her roommate Cordelia, a former conservatory student in Philadelphia, who has to overcome familial challenges and figure out what to do when a suitor sends her an engagement ring.

There are a lot of great young adult literature titles being published now. And for that I am grateful. But some contemporary young adult titles take on so many issues that it can be overwhelming for the reader. One of the reasons I liked Diary of a Waitress is became it is focused.  Meyer takes on the various story lines of several Harvey Girls but does not overwhelm readers with so many issues that the central message is lost. Meyer does not ignore the serious nature of these girls’ life.  But the way in which she portrays the Harvey Girls’ lives is refreshing. There is a certain simplicity and innocence to her writing that I find utterly beautiful.  

Let me know what you think of Diary of a Waitress in the comments below!

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