"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Review: Audacity by Melanie Crowder

Clara Lemlich was a Jewish-Ukrainian immigrant who, at the age of 23, rose to a position of power within the women's labor movement and delivered the speech which incited the Uprising of the Twenty Thousand strike among garment workers in 1909.
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
As a Jew and as a woman Clara was expected to passively do what she was told and not create problems for her family or her culture. But Lemlich had a craving for education, even going to school after her long days at the garment factory, to better herself and to take advantage of the opportunities available to her in this country. The working conditions were so deplorable in the factory where she worked she felt she had to speak up. Because of her actions she was fired, beaten up, and accused of being a prostitute. When she went to the labor unions for help the men there were not interested in working on behalf of women. Everywhere she went Clara Lemlich had to make her way herself. Ultimately the Uprising of the Twenty Thousand led to a two-month strike, which in turn led to more favorable hours and working conditions at many of the garment factories. Unfortunately not at all of them, however. We know from our history lessons that The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 led to the death of 146 workers largely because they were locked in and had no way of escape.

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


  1. What a beautiful post! This is a great review! The book sounds very interesting to me and one I want to read. I love Clara's fortitude. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you. i hope you do pick up Audacity. it is a gem. My favorite types of books are ones which not only entertain me but also teach me something. Audacity does both.


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