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Annotation: Details the life of Clara Lemlich and her struggle for women's labor rights in the early 20th century in New York.
Catalog Number: #113077
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition Date: 2016
Pages: 390 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-14-751249-2 Perma-Bound: 0-605-92996-3
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-14-751249-9 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-92996-8
Dewey: Fic
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
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 u 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.
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 7 Up&12; 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.&12; Brittany Staszak, Glencoe Public Library, IL
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (page 390).
Word Count: 30,494
Reading Level: 6.6
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 6.6 / points: 5.0 / quiz: 179348 / grade: Middle Grades+
Reading Counts!: reading level:10.6 / points:9.0 / quiz:Q67122
Lexile: 1120L
                                    Over the grey plain of the sea
                                    winds are gathering the storm-clouds
float like wayward clouds
in the air
in my mind.
                                    Now his wing the wave
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.
                                    Now his wing the wave caresses,
                                    now he rises like an arrow
                                    cleaving clouds
The poem is ripped
from my hand
and the air,
where only wayward clouds
had been,
is full of shouting,
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
in my mind
where fists
    and fury
cannot shake it free.

Just because I am
small boned
and short,
brown haired
and brown eyed,
just because I look
as a wren
as a robin
that does not mean
what is inside me is also
as a wren
as a robin.
I wish for
is strange
even wrong in this place
but I know
I cannot be the only one
blanketing her bright feathers
hooding her sharp eyes
in plain sight.
My life
            so far
has been ordinary
but I cannot shake the feeling
that inside this little body
something stronger
is nesting
for a chance
to flex her talons
snap her wings
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.

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, Audacity is 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 century and fought tenaciously for equal rights. Bucking the norms of both her traditional Jewish family and societal conventions, Clara refuses 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, Audacity is the story of a remarkable young woman, whose passion and selfless devotion to her cause changed the world.


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