I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Audacity by Melanie Crowder
Published by Penguin on January 8th 2015
Genres: 20th Century, Girls & Women, Historical, Stories in Verse, United States, Young Adult
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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. Praise for AUDACITY: *
I love finding underrated powerful books. When I was approached to review†Audacity by Melanie Crowder and host a guest post, I was SO excited, because the subject of the book, or rather the theme is something I deeply care about. You see,†Audacity is about Clara Lemlich, who was a bit of a firebrand. Friends, you know I am all about women’s history and revolutions. This is a book that’s not quite about a revolution, but about a girl who stands up for what she believes in her heart is right, even if speaking out negatively affects her. Straight up, I am so glad I had the opportunity to feature this incredibly powerful verse book.
Audacity opens up in a small village in Russia. Clara lives with her family in a small Jewish community. Her days are spent earning small sums of money to buy forbidden books. Clara is hungry for knowledge. Unfortunately, for Clara, her father finds those books and she gets in trouble. Yet, there’s bigger trouble brewing than Clara’s clandestine learning. In the next village over, there’s a pogrom as the Jews are blamed for the death of a young gentile boy. This is the spark that causes Clara’s family to immigrate to America, to New York City. There, Clara finds a job in a garment shop, however conditions are not good in the shop. So, she decides to do something about it and join a union. And thus,†Audacity centers around Clara’s audacity to stand up for the rights of workers and women.
Clara was an actual person. Granted, Melanie Crowder’s†Audacity is a fictionalized version of her life, however, I wanted to learn more about Clara after reading the book. I thought Crowder’s treatment of Clara as a character was even handed and fair. Clara Lemlich is exactly the kind of character I love to read about. She’s a total David vs. Goliath type of character. She stands up for her beliefs and I love that. I love that she actually literally has the courage of her convictions. She’s exactly the sort of character and person I would like to emulate in my real life. I think that this is certainly a book that belongs in schools and classrooms simply based on Clara’s characterization.
Melanie Crowder writes†Audacity in free verse as opposed to prose. I think that choice works out perfectly. It makes it so that the book is focused on what is important and so, the words on the page have all kinds of impact because they are carefully chosen. Further, at the end of the book is an interview with Clara’s living relatives giving us a glimpse into the kind of person Clara was outside of her firebrand personality. It puts her on a personal level.
You should definitely pick up this powerful verse book — especially if you are a teacher or librarian.