Thursday, March 12, 2020

Last of the Name

Parry, Roseanne. Last of the Name
April 2nd 2019 by Carolrhoda Books
Public library copy

Danny and Kathleen O'Carolan leave a bad situation in Ireland in 1863. Their father has left home, and their mother has died after grieving the death of another daughter. They manage to scrape together passage to the US with their grandmother, but she dies on the ship. Landing in New York, they know to be wary, but also need to find jobs. Kathleen finds a place as a maid, but it requires Danny to dress as a girl, Mary, and work in the household as well. He is tempted by the recruiters who are trying to get young boys into drum corps to help with the fighting during the civil war, but Kathleen won't hear of it. The two get a little help from a nun at a nearby church, but she is German and they are Irish, and the Irish are the targets of lots of discrimination. Blessed with a beautiful voice, Danny occasionally busks when he is supposed to be running errands for the cook, and comes to the attention of a local variety show producer who wants Danny to perform at his family friendly theater. Trouble arises with their domestic situation, and there are dangerous riots heating up in the streets. Kathleen grudgingly agrees to see how life in the theater would be.
Strengths: This is a timely story about the treatment of a large group of immigrants who are mistreated by the mainstream culture. Most students today don't know that the Irish faced a lot of obstacles in coming to the US from a troubled country. This was also fun, with Danny being forced to look and act like a girl. Nice notes at the back. The theater connection reminded me a little of Tubb's Selling Hope, which has gone out 20 times in ten years, so I feel good about that purchase.
Weaknesses: Meandered a bit in the middle and could have been tightened up and a little shorter.
What I really think: I really want to buy this, but I'm not sure how many readers I would have for it. Will purchase if I have the money at the end of the year.
Ms. Yingling

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