Clara comes from a very traditional Jewish family, so when they arrive in New York she and her mother must find work. Her father and brothers are to spend their time studying God's word. I had a hard time not throwing the book across the room. Her mother is taking in piecework and Clara is working in a sweatshop barely making anything. And the males in the family go to the temple and study all day. I'm all for faith, but how can one justify this in the name of any religion?
Anyway, Clara can't deal with the working conditions and starts looking into unionizing. The men are beginning to become organized, but they see no need to include women. So not only does Clara have to fight the women to get them to join, but she has to fight the men to include them. She spends many days picketing, loses her job, and is beaten more than once. Ultimately her efforts lead to a massive 20,000 worker uprising.
She's an inspiration. One that most people have probably never heard of. This is a story worth hearing, and it's quick. Audacity is written in verse and is easy to follow. I wasn't blown away by the format, but it also didn't hinder me. The Historical Note at the end and the interviews with Clara's family add much to the story.
Audacity would be a great classroom read that would provide a lot of food for discussion. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire occurs shortly after this and might be an option for further study. Yet another historical fiction that I need to push to my teens. I think they will like Audacity, if I can convince them to try it.
Published by Philomel, January 8, 2015
Copy obtained from the library
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