Summary and book reviews of Audacity by Melanie Crowder

Audacity

by Melanie Crowder

Audacity by Melanie Crowder
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2015, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2016, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sharry Wright

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Book Summary

The inspiring story of Clara Lemlich, whose fight for equal rights led to the largest strike by women in American history

A gorgeously told novel in verse written with intimacy and power, Audacity is inspired by the real-life story of Clara Lemlich, a spirited young woman who emigrated from Russia to New York at the turn of the twentieth century and fought tenaciously for equal rights. Bucking the norms of both her traditional Jewish family and societal conventions, Clara refuses to accept substandard working conditions in the factories on Manhattan's Lower East Side. For years, Clara devotes herself to the labor fight, speaking up for those who suffer in silence. In time, Clara convinces the women in the factories to strike, organize, and unionize, culminating in the famous Uprising of the 20,000.

Powerful, breathtaking, and inspiring, Audacity is the story of a remarkable young woman, whose passion and selfless devotion to her cause changed the world.

Ages 12+

disorderly

If I am to represent my union
If I am to be taken seriously
I cannot dress in old-world rags
anymore.

I dip into my savings
just a little
for a shirtwaist
a smart skirt
new stockings
a hat
and a pair of boots
that fit.

I march across town
wait on the sidewalk
for the girls to be let out
of the worst shop
in the city.

I am sure
once or twice
I spot tawny wings flitting
at the edge of my sight
and out of view.

The workers take the circulars
I offer them
though it does nothing
to lift the haggard
hanging of their heads
the defeated
dim look in their eyes.

A policeman grabs me from behind
my papers flutter
to the ground.

Let go of me!
I shout,
I have done nothing wrong!

Disorderly conduct, ma'am,
the officer says.

He hefts me up
into the shadowed maw
of a police wagon.
We lurch away
and I grip the bench
to keep from being thrown to the floor
caked in filth.
I lift my feet up onto the wood beside me
tuck my head ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The novel explores the challenge of sacrificing what you want for what you believe is right and just. There are also strong coming-of-age themes — growing into oneself, separate and different from one's family, and learning to have the courage to stand up and fight, struggles that teens will empathize with. Audacity is an unforgettable and inspiring story that I would recommend to both teens and adults who like literary historical fiction with a strong female protagonist and to educators who will find this serious, spare novel a great choice for workers' and women's rights history lessons. Ages 12+   (Reviewed by Sharry Wright).

Full Review (647 words).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Crowder's (Parched) use of free verse in this fictionalization of Russian-Jewish immigrant Clara Lemlich's life brings a spare poignancy to a familiar history. Ages 12 and up.

School Library Journal

Starred Review. This book stands alone...an impactful addition to any historical fiction collection.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Crowder breathes life into a world long past...Compelling, powerful and unforgettable.

Author Blurb Margaret Peterson Haddix, critically acclaimed, bestselling author of Uprising
Audacity is an evocative reimagining of a fascinating historical figure who should be remembered for her determination in the face of great odds and powerful opposition - and for her role in changing America.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

The Tenement Museum

Like many immigrant families in New York at the turn of the 20th century, Clara and her family lived in a tenement very much like the one preserved and recreated at the Tenement Museum in Manhattan's Lower East Side, a National Historic Site run by the National Park Service. This five-story brick building on Orchard Street was built in 1863 and over the next 70 years was home to almost 7,000 working class immigrants from twenty nations.

The museum was the vision of Ruth Abram, a historian and social activist who wanted to create a place that would honor America's immigrants. When she and co-founder Anita Jacobson stumbled upon the tenement in 1988 and saw the sheet-metal ceilings, the turn-of-the-century toilets and aging wooden ...

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