Cover image for Audacity
Crowder, Melanie.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Philomel Books, [2015]
Physical Description:
389 pages ; 22 cm
"A historical fiction novel in verse detailing the life of Clara Lemlich and her struggle for women's labor rights in the early 20th century in New York."--

Format :


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Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Paperback
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Young Adult

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A 2015 National Jewish Book Award finalist The inspiring story of Clara Lemlich, whose fight for equal rights led to the largest strike by women in American history A gorgeously told novel in verse written with intimacy and power,a Audacity ais inspired by the real-life story of Clara Lemlich, a spirited young woman who emigrated from Russia to New York at the turn of the twentieth centuryaand foughtatenaciously for equal rights. Bucking the norms of both her traditional Jewish family and societal conventions, Claraarefuses to accept substandard working conditions in the factories on Manhattan's Lower East Side. For years, Clara devotes herself to the labor fight, speaking up for those who suffer in silence. In time, Clara convinces the women in the factories to strike, organize, and unionize, culminating in the famous Uprising of the 20,000.Powerful, breathtaking, and inspiring,a Audacitya is the story of a remarkable young woman, whose passion and selfless devotion to her cause changed the world. a Praise for AUDACITY- A 2015 National Jewish Book Award finalist A Washington Post Best Children's Books for April- Poetry EditionA New York Public Library Best Book for Teens An ALA Top 10 Best Fiction for Young Adults Pick An ALSC Notable Children's Book nominee A BCCB Blue Ribbon winner * "Crowder breathes life into a world long past....Compelling,apowerful and unforgettable." -- Kirkus Reviews , starred review * "This book stands impactful addition to any historical fiction collection."-- School Library Journal , starred review * "With a thorough historical note, glossary of terms, and bibliography, this will make an excellent complement to units on women's rights and the labor movement, but it will also satisfy readers in search of a well-told tale of a fierce heroine."-- BCCB , starred review * "This is an excellent title that can open discussions in U.S. history and economics courses about women's rights, labor unions, and the immigrant experience."-- School Library Connection , starred review "Based on the true story of Clara Lemlich, Audacityathrobs with the emotions of this exceptional young woman who fought for equal rights and improved labor standards in factories. Melanie Crowder's verses spit out Clara's rage, cradle her longing and soar like the birds that are her constant companions."-- Bookpage a oCrowder's ( Parched ) use of free verse in this fictionalization of Russian-Jewish immigrant Clara Lemlich's life brings a spare poignancy to a familiar history.o-- Publishers Weekly "Brilliant, riveting, informative."a-Cynthia Levinson, critically acclaimed author of We've Got a Job o Audacity ais an evocative reimagining of a fascinating historical figure who should be remembered for her determination in the face of great odds and powerful opposition-and for her role in changing America. Melanie Crowder's powerful verse r

Author Notes

Melanie Crowder ( lives on the Colorado Front Range where she is a writer and educator. She teaches English to non-native-English-speaking students at her local school and holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Follow Melanie on Twitter at @MelanieACrowder.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

From the shtetl, through the Russian Empire pogroms and steerage, Clara Lemlich and her family finally arrive in teeming New York City. Crowder's verse novel tells the eastern European immigrant story at the turn of the last century. Here, whether in the Old or New World, the men study Torah and the women work. Clara not only endures her hard labor in abysmal conditions but feels deeply for those women and children suffering around her. After the workday, Clara studies English, always reaching for her destiny. In short order, it is the labor movement that will be her calling and unionizing that will be her vehicle. Crowder develops Clara's education from the mean streets through persuasive verse: I have only been in this country two years but quickly, I learned you have to fight for what you want you have to take what you need. It is Clara who claims that all she has is audacity. Thanks to audacious Clara, this fictional narrative, based on Lemlich's real-life experiences, illuminates the labor-union movement, especially the women's strike known as the Uprising of the 20,000.--Bush, Gail Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Crowder's (Parched) use of free verse in this fictionalization of Russian-Jewish immigrant Clara Lemlich's life brings a spare poignancy to a familiar history: a poor family's flight from Russia following the 1903 pogrom, an arduous journey to Ellis Island, survival in the tenements of New York's Lower East Side, and Clara's grueling work in garment industry sweatshops. The only daughter in a strict Orthodox family, forbidden to learn Russian, read, or write, Clara secretly defies her father's decrees, hungry for education and determined to become a doctor. As she endures horrific working conditions in America, her dream changes, and she becomes a tireless leader of the union movement. Fighting to organize the women workers, she is locked out of jobs, jailed, and beaten: "They do not speak/ but their message is/ painfully/ clear/ slap scratch/ punch pummel/ kick kick spit." In addition to a closing note that provides context and biographical information, an endearing interview with Lemlich's children and grandchildren gives a glimpse into how this stubborn and fiery young woman lived out the balance of her life. Ages 12-up. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-Written in verse, this novel is loosely based on the life of Clara Lemlich Shavelson, the leader of New York shirtwaist strike of 1909. Clara and her family are Jewish Russians who flee the anti-Semitism of turn-of-the-century Russia to find a better life in America. However, Clara still experiences gender and religious oppression in New York. She is unable to gain the education she desires, because she is forced to work in a sweatshop, and she can't rise above her given status as an immigrant worker because foreign women are taught only rudimentary English. But "Inside I am anything/ but fresh off the boat./ I have been ready for this/ possibility/ all my life," Clara declares, and she proves that she has the audacity to do the impossible for a female and a Jew: organizing a woman's union and ultimately having her voice heard. The verse form of the narrative lends lightness to an otherwise bleak topic and moves the story along quickly, while artful formatting of the text creates and sustains mood. This book stands alone in its topic and time frame, with only Michelle Markel's picture book Brave Girl (HarperCollins, 2013) as a nonfiction companion. With historical notes, interviews with Clara's family members, and a glossary of Yiddish terms, Audacity is an impactful addition to any historical fiction collection.-Brittany Staszak, Glencoe Public Library, IL (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



clouds Over the grey plain of the sea winds are gathering the storm-clouds Words float like wayward clouds in the air in my mind. Now his wing the wave Wait-- or was it, Now the wave his wing caresses I dip a hand into my apron pocket unfold a square of paper against my palm, hunch my shoulder, hide it from view. Ah, yes. Now his wing the wave caresses, now he rises like an arrow cleaving clouds and The poem is ripped from my hand and the air, where only wayward clouds had been, is full of shouting, accusations a hand raised in anger ready to strike-- the world slows in the second before pain blooms in my jaw; a second to hope the poem is safe in my mind where fists and fury cannot shake it free. ordinary Just because I am small boned and short, brown haired and brown eyed, just because I look common as a wren meek as a robin that does not mean what is inside me is also common as a wren meek as a robin. Everything I wish for is strange aberrant even wrong in this place but I know I cannot be the only one blanketing her bright feathers hooding her sharp eyes hiding in plain sight. My life so far has been ordinary simple small but I cannot shake the feeling that inside this little body something stronger is nesting waiting for a chance to flex her talons snap her wings taut and glide far away from here. Excerpted from Audacity by Melanie Crowder All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.