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.
One of my favorite things to do (if I have the time) at the library is to just browse the new releases/new purchases shelf and see if there is anything that catches my eye. While I was looking at the young adult shelf a couple of weeks ago, there was something about Audacity that made me pick it up. I can’t explain exactly what it was, but the cover caught my eye, as did the brief description on the book flap – so I said, what the heck and added it to my stack of books. I will say that I didn’t look close enough to realize it was a novel told in verse until I got home (not that that’s bad, it just took me by surprise) – but since I have read/enjoyed books told in that format before, I figured I would enjoy it and I wasn’t wrong.
Audacity tells the story of Clara Lemlich, a young Russian immigrant who became involved in the rise of labor unions in the early 1900’s. I had never heard of her until this book, but now I want to read more about her. I knew a little bit about the establishment of the unions in NYC during that time period, and a bit more about the Triangle Fire which occurred during that time period – but it’s not one that i’ve really studied (and honestly, don’t really remember it being covered in any of the US history courses I took in college). I thought this went well with my idea to read books about different women in history and how they contributed (as a follow-up to listening to The Invention of Wings, about the Grimke sisters). Clara Lemlich lived up to this quote that I love, “well-behaved women rarely make history” – even from a young age she wasn’t destined to be the meek mannered female that she was expected to be – she pushed all the boundaries that were available to her – wanting to learn more, do more and be more – not just being settled with her lot in life.
I found that the novel told in verse approach was something unique to historical fiction – i honestly don’t know how popular it is, I know its the first time i’ve come across it in this genre (my other experiences with it have been for contemporary/realistic fiction writings). I kind of want to see if I can find more like it because it was really well done. The pages and segments of the book flowed well between the different events that occurred in Clara’s life, including not only her union work, but also events in her life prior to that. I’m intrigued to not only read more by this author, but also more about the time period in history.
This is a book that I would recommend to adults and teens alike, its written in a way that teens would find it enjoyable, as well as adults and for adults, it may cover a slice of history that you aren’t familiar with. Overall, I gave Audacity 4 stars and intrigued to read more by the author in the future.