STARRED REVIEW
January 2015

At the heart of an uprising

By Melanie Crowder
Review by
Rural Russia is not a kind place for Jews in the early 20th century. Miserable, powerless peasants make their Jewish neighbors the scapegoats for everything that goes wrong—and things go wrong all the time. For teenager Clara, the repression tightens as she watches her father and brothers spend their days studying the Torah, while she sweeps floors and prepares meals. As a girl, Clara is forbidden to learn how to read, write or speak Russian—but secretly, she does all three.
Share this Article:

BookPage Teen Top Pick, January 2015

Rural Russia is not a kind place for Jews in the early 20th century. Miserable, powerless peasants make their Jewish neighbors the scapegoats for everything that goes wrong—and things go wrong all the time. For teenager Clara, the repression tightens as she watches her father and brothers spend their days studying the Torah, while she sweeps floors and prepares meals. As a girl, Clara is forbidden to learn how to read, write or speak Russian—but secretly, she does all three.

When violence explodes against the Jewish villagers, Clara’s family immigrates to New York City. There, Clara feels trapped by the same Jewish traditions that bound her in Russia. While the men continue to read and study, Clara works 10-hour days in a sweatshop. But she will not be caged, not by tradition or injustice. Learning about the formation of unions to protect workers, Clara risks her life to join the crusade.

Based on the true story of Clara Lemlich, Audacity throbs with the emotions of this exceptional young woman who fought for equal rights and improved labor standards in factories. Melanie Crowder’s verses spit out Clara’s rage, cradle her longing and soar like the birds that are her constant companions. Pair with Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Uprising or Elizabeth Winthrop’s Counting on Grace to get a full picture of early labor conditions for young immigrants.

 

Diane Colson works at the Nashville Public Library. She has long been active in the American Library Association's Young Adult Library Association (YALSA), serving on selection committees such as the Morris Award, the Alex Award and the Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award.

This article was originally published in the January 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

Trending Reviews

Get the Book

Audacity

Audacity

By Melanie Crowder
Philomel
ISBN 9780399168994

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our enewsletters to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres.

Sign Up

Sign up to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres!