Audacity by Melanie Crowder (Mod 3)


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Crowder, Melanie. Audacity. Speak: New York, 2015. ISBN 9780147512499

Plot Summary:

Clara Lemlich is a Russian Jewish immigrant living in New York City. She is forced to work in the garment factory to help support her family. When Clara realizes how horrendous the working conditions are, she works tirelessly to fight for women’s rights in the workplace. Inspired by a true story, this novel is about girl power and spirit.

Critical Analysis:

This is a beautiful and powerful novel of strength, determination, will, and fighting for justice. Insanely vivid and at times, heart breaking, this novel is a must read, especially for young women and men. Starting off in Russia, this novel makes you understand what it is like to be an immigrant. They travel across the world, facing the most heartbreaking changes on their way, only to realize that dreams are impossible, no matter where you live. Clara refuses to accept that as her reality. When she begins to understand the conditions they are placed in, she fights with courage to change things for the better.

The book flows beautifully. It is well paced and really touches its readers.

At the end of the book, there is a historical note for readers, explaining the real story of Clara Lemlich. I think that’s very important to include in historical novels. Knowing that it was real gives us faith and hope that we too can change the world.

Example Poem: 

(the man on the soapbox explains)
means no one is better than anyone else
everyone shares

the same rights
the same protection
the same opportunity

no matter their station
no matter their religion
no matter their gender.

At last!
I have a name for the ideas in my head.

He gives me pamphlets
invites me to lectures
asks questions
I do not yet
have answers for.

At last!
There is work for my mind in England.”

This excerpt is on page 87. I chose this passage, not because it’s particularly beautiful or rhythmic. I chose it because it is applicable to society, then, now, and forever. While we no longer have little girls working in unsuitable conditions in factories that are incredibly dangerous and get paid next to nothing with no benefits and no breaks, we have a lot of injustice in this world still. When I was trying to figure out who I was politically, socialist seemed to be the right term. A term that means justice. A term that means diversity. A term that means equality. You may or may not be a socialist, and that’s okay. The reason why this passage struck out at me, especially with the events of the past few months, we need the reminder that this is how it used to be, so it shouldn’t still be this way. And while the text may not be particularly poetic, the meaning is beautifully poetic.


Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer L Holm Historical Fiction Book Review


Holm, Jennifer L. Our Only May Amelia. HarperCollins Children’s Books. New York, NY. 1999.

Plot Summary

May Amelia Jackson is considered a miracle. She is the first female born into her family. With seven older brothers, May Amelia grows up forgetting most of the time that she’s even a girl. She ends up being in a lot of trouble. To the point that her family starts putting pressure on her to become a Proper Young Lady.  She starts to realize that she is treated differently than her brothers. While May Amelia loves it, she hopes that her mother, who is pregnant again, will give birth to another girl so she’s not the only one.

Critical Analysis

 This book was really good. It was a fast paced book. There’s some wonky capitalization that I realize is the character’s voice, but is distracting as a reader. There’s also no quotations around dialogue, which is very annoying. I’m not sure if that was done on purpose (and if so, what purpose it served) or if it’s bad editing.

It’s historically accurate in that families were large, there were typically more males born than females, and children died often and frequently.

I do like the character May. I like her free spirit and her can do attitude. She can do anything a boy can, and shows it. I think it’s a great book for little girls to read. They could always do with more girl power.

Review Excerpts

Newbery Honor 2000

From Publishers Weekly: “Readers will fall in love with May Amelia’s spirited nature; when she saves her brothers from a cougar, she tells them, “I reckon it’s a Darn Good Thing I’m not a Proper Young Lady or you’d be a cougar’s supper right about now.” This novel is not to be missed.”

From Booklist: “The author bases her story on her aunt’s real diary, so the everyday details of life among Finnish immigrants add a nice specificity to the background, and May is appealingly vivacious. However, the lack of quotation marks, the overuse of certain expressions (among them, “indeed”), the length, and sometimes slow pacing may make this a secondary purchase.”


Other books by Jennifer L Holm:

Sunny Side Up ISBN 0545741661

Penny from Heaven ISBN 0375836896

Turtle in Paradise ISBN 037583690X

Other Historical Fiction books:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak ISBN 0375842209

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys ISBN 014242059X

I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Majorie Agosin ISBN 1416994025