Rave Reviews Log: Historical Fiction

October 24, 2006

Bread and Roses, Too

By Katherine Paterson
Period: Early 20th century Massachusetts
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

In 1912 in Lawrence, Massachusetts, the mainly foreign-born workforce in the mills decides to strike against the mill owners who cut their pay. Rosa is a very Catholic Italian girl whose father is dead and her mother and sister work in the mills. Rosa is determined to get a good education and have a better life than the mills, but she is taken aback by the whole-hearted support for the strike that her mother and sister display. She teeters daily on the edge of terror that something awful will happen to her family in the strike as the situation worsens. Meanwhile, Jake is an uneducated American boy working in the mills and bouncing about from place to place to avoid his alchoholic, abusive father, sometimes even stealing to get by. Jake makes the acquaintance of Rosa when she takes pity on him and lets him sleep in her kitchen one night. Neither feels like they can trust adults or even each other. As the strike worsens, families in New York and Vermont offer to take strike children away for safety, and Rosa and Jake end up in a Vermont home with an older couple. Rosa pines for her family and Jake, posing as her brother, is determined to steal money from the old couple and get away from his past forever. Will Jake get away with his crime? Will Rosa's family survive the strike? Told from the point of view of both Jake and Rosa, this very interesting historical novel will draw readers into a world of hunger, injustice and hard work tempered with the fact that even in the midst of the worst situations, kindness to others can make a difference. A solid effort by an author of many classics, such as Bridge to Terabithia, Jacob Have I Loved and The Great Gilly Hopkins.


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