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Sunday, December 27, 2020

MG Women's Rights Novel Important, Enjoyable

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Brigid "Bridie" Gallagher has experienced nothing but hardship in her eleven years.  The potato famine in Ireland killed her father and brothers, then her mother died in America, leaving Bridie orphaned, alone, and locked in a debtors' prison.  When she's freed, it's only to become a servant for an abusive family.  Fed up with being mistreated, Bridie flees.  In Seneca Falls, New York, she meets Rose Wilson, a Black girl her own age.  Rose finds her new friend a position in the household of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a well-known abolitionist and feminist.  Bridie has never met a stranger woman than her new employer.  The more time she spends with her, however, the more Bridie learns about Stanton's advocacy for women's rights.  However revolutionary her ideas might be, both Bridie and Rose become supporters of the cause.  Like Stanton, they want their voices to be heard, even if not everyone is willing to hear them.  Change doesn't come without a fight and the two girls are ready for battle!  Aren't they?

With the recent 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment of the United States' Constitution, Starting from Seneca Falls by Karen Schwabach is a timely novel aimed at helping young readers learn about the struggle that finally resulted in women being granted the right to vote.  While this might not seem like a terribly exciting topic for a middle-grade book, it's still an important one.  Not only does Schwabach bring 19th Century America to life with vivid period detail but she also introduces readers to important historical figures like Stanton, Frederick Douglass, and Lucretia Mott.  Although Bridie and Rose are fictional, they're sympathetic and likable, making them easy heroines to root for.  Starting From Seneca Falls addresses a lot of issues—maybe too many—which makes the story feel a bit unfocused.  Without a concrete story goal, Bridie's tale is especially loosey-goosey.  Still, I enjoyed this novel overall.  It discusses important topics in a story that moved along swiftly enough to keep my attention.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence, disturbing subject matter, and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

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