2013 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award
Rosa’s mother is singing again, for the first time since Papa died in an accident in the mills. But instead of filling their cramped tenement apartment with Italian lullabies, Mamma is out on the streets singing union songs, and Rosa is terrified that her mother and older sister, Anna, are endangering their lives by marching against the corrupt mill owners. After all, didn’t Miss Finch tell the class that the strikers are nothing but rabble-rousers—an uneducated, violent mob? Suppose Mamma and Anna are jailed or, worse, killed? What will happen to Rosa and little Ricci? When Rosa is sent to Vermont with other children to live with strangers until the strike is over, she fears she will never see her family again. Then, on the train, a boy begs her to pretend that he is her brother. Alone and far from home, she agrees to protect him . . . even though she suspects that he is hiding some terrible secret. From a beloved, award-winning author, here is a moving story based on real events surrounding an infamous 1912 strike.
Returning to themes she explored in Lyddie, Paterson sets this novel in the winter of 1912 in Lawrence, Mass., where the plight of textile mill workers unfolds through the alternating third-person perspectives of a boy millworker, Jake Beale, and Rosa Serutti, whose mother and sister work in the mill. The two meet when sixth-grader Rosa looks for her discarded shoes in the trash heap where 13-year-old Jake, who has fled his abusive, alcoholic father, plans to sleep for the night. Though they do not introduce themselves, Rosa offers the boy her family's kitchen floor for the night. Their paths cross again, most notably after the workers strike, and violence escalates to the point where striking parents send their children to families who support the union cause in New York City and Vermont. Rosa, headed to Vermont, helps Jake escape with her. The book feels like two stories in one: the first part immersed in details of the historical strike (an endnote lays out the facts), and the second part set in Barre, Vt. Unlike Lyddie, Rosa is a bystander to the workers' plight (though she does come up with the title mantra for the strikers), so readers may find her character elusive until the book's second half. Jake eventually becomes sympathetic, but mostly due to the kindness of the memorable Mr. Gerbati, the children's foster father and a gifted Vermont stonecutter. Readers may wish for an entire book about this gentle man. Ages 10-14.
Customer ReviewsSee All
This book was amazing it gives the reader some insight as to what happened during this time. Despite some of the events in this story being fictional not all of them are. Some are inspired by true events.
Bread and Roses, Too
This book was amazing. Can't get any better. Go read it now.