Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Lexile = 1120
I love historical fiction. I love spunky female characters that color 'outside the lines' of their lives. But as soon as I opened this novel, I assumed I wouldn't like it. Why?
Because it is written in verse... like this:
Once I got over that stylistic anomaly, the story flowed and was indeed rather poetic. For example.... when Clara's father rejects her desires to get an education and reminds her that her only purpose is to marry and care for a family, we hear:
I know Papa thinks
this fire in me
the faith he holds
but I see our faith
as the thing
that lit this fire in me
to begin with.
As you can see, the poetic form allows the author to be more, well, poetic in her descriptions of the life of Clara Lemlich, a young Jewish immigrant that becomes a union organizer in the early part of the 20th Century.
I know so little about this era. The novel is "inspired by a true story" and a well-documented historical note concludes the work. The young women trapped in the sweat shops of the time owe a great debt to Lemlich and others like her that overcame prejudice and social injustice in order to improve working conditions for all. I was also reminded of current refugee crises as the author described the family's escape from the pogroms of Russia in the early 1900's.