Like many Jewish and Italian immigrant laborers, Lemlich joined the textile-manufacturing workforce only two weeks after arriving in New York. At the Gotham shirtwaist factory, women worked 11 hours a day, six days a week, for starting wages of $3 a week -- conditions that reduced workers "to the status of machines," wrote 17-year-old Lemlich. -PBS American Experience Biography
|Clara Lemlich, 1910|
Audacity, written in verse by Melanie Crowder, is Clara Lemlich's story starting in her Ukrainian homeland where her father discouraged her even learning to read, through the families journey to the USA in 1903, and finally to life in New York City and work within the garment industry. The book is considered fiction because Crowder writes Lemlich's thoughts and conversations but they are based of Lemlich's own writings and interviews. In the book's forward Crowder writes, "It has been an honor to imagine my way into Clara's small but mighty footsteps."
What I found to be completely charming about Audacity was the quality of the poems. Often books written in verse might as well have been written in prose since the poems themselves are nothing special. That is not the case in Audacity. The poetry was spectacular, lifting the story right off the pages. Ah, if only all historical events were written in a style to easy to read. In this verse we see Clara's determination to better herself through education, making herself stronger for the fight ahead.
If I have one wish for the new year, it is only
that I study harder,
that I will be stronger
that the fight will never leave me, no matter
how hard it gets
Clara was audacious and she deserves to have a wonderful book about her contributions to American history and the labor movement in our country. Audacity is a fantastic book and I highly recommend it.
Stars: 5 out of 5