Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mock Printz or Newbery: Bread and Roses Too

Title: Bread and Roses, Too
Author: Katherine Paterson
ISBN: 0618654798
Review: Bread and Roses Too touched me in a way that it had me crying by the end of the book. I really came to care for the characters and the historical background was fascinating. The book takes place during the mill strikes in Lawrence, Mass in 1912. The story focuses on two kids in two different positions whose lives become intertwined. Jake is a boy whose alcoholic father works him in the mills and beats him up on pay day to take all the money for drink. He leaves the boy living on the streets like a "rat". Rosa meets him sleeping on a trash heap. In contrast, she is the daughter of Italian immigrants, much loved and the hope of the family because of her intellectual abilities. Her Dad died in a fire at the mills. She too lives from hand to mouth but her life has some joy in it because of her caring mother and siblings. When the big strike happens, the kids are sent off to Italian families in Barre, Vermont. Jake can't get the proper paperwork done so he sneaks on the bus and gets Rosa to lie for him by pretending he is her brother. Their experiences with a wealthy family in Barre and the bonds that begin to form make for a touching, well thought out historical novel. Although the kids are not teens, this book will still work for teens. These kids have plenty of responsibility and live much older lives than contemporary counterparts. Jake is essentially on his own and Rosa has a definite leadership role in the family. This book will definitely win an award somewhere.
Reviewer: Susan Rappaport, Rutherford Public Library

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