America as seen through the eyes of its young founders.
Seventeen-year-old Patrick O'Neall dreams of going to college one day and becoming a famous writer--until news arrives of his father's death in a place called Gettysburg. Forced off their farm, the family migrates north, hoping to find work in the booming mill towns of industrial New England. What they find in the factory town of Leeland is not a better life, but drudgery and poverty and heartache. Patrick and his family must work long hours in dangerous conditions for miserable pay. They are no better off than slaves.
Patrick's friend has found a shortcut to the good life: robbing the wealthy mill owners. And he wants Patrick to join his gang.
Patrick must choose. He wants to believe in America as the land of opportunity, but is the price of his dream too high?
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Elizabeth Massie is author of numerous novels for young adult, middle grade, and primary readers. These include the Young Founders series, the Daughters of Liberty trilogy, The Great Chicago Fire: 1871, The Fight for Right, Read All About It, and more. A former middle school teacher, Elizabeth enjoys exploring both important and little-known moments in American history and presenting those moments to readers through the struggles and triumphs of her characters.
Elizabeth lives in the historic Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, very close to where her family moved in 1747. She says, “Every place is historic. Well-known or not, every town, city, and county has its own compelling tale of people and events, a story that plays a part in the continuing story that is our history.”
Grade 8 Up-After his father's death at Gettysburg, Patrick O'Neill's mother moves the family to New Jersey and then to Leland, MA, to work in the mills. Patrick dreams of going to college and becoming a writer and feels stifled by the oppressiveness of factory work and poverty. When a fellow worker is crippled on the job, he discovers The Worker's Voice (writers needed), but it is not until his sister Abigail is killed in a mill accident that he decides to fulfill his desire to write for the newspaper. The story is filled with inconsistencies, both in detail and in character. In the first chapter, Patrick is 8, but by the third-a year and a half later-he is 12. The story also has far too many coincidences. Even Abigail's death conspires to get Patrick closer to his dream. Overall, Massie tries to do too much, covering conditions in the United States after the Civil War, the dangers of millwork, and the prejudice encountered by immigrants. Readers would be better served by Katherine Paterson's Lyddie (Lodestar, 1991) or James Collier's The Clock (Dell, 1994).
Lisa Prolman, Greenfield Public Library, MA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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