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Sep 20, 2013

September Genreflecting: Review: Lyddie by Katherine Paterson

Genreflecting wordle
Lyddie cover
When Lyddie and her younger brother are hired out as servants to help pay off their family farm's debts, Lyddie is determined to find a way to reunite her family once again. When Lyddie hears about the mill jobs in Lowell, Massachusetts, she heads there with the goal of earning enough money to reunite her family. 

Six days a week from dawn to dusk Lyddie and the other girls run weaving looms in the murky dust - and lint-filled factory. Lyddie learns to read - and to handle the menacing overseer. But when the working conditions begin to affect her friends' health, she has to make a choice. Will she speak up for better working conditions and risk her job - and her dream? Or will she stay quiet until it is perhaps too late?

From Goodreads

The industrial revolution in the United States was just as harsh on the population as in Europe. With constant in-fighting among all the companies & factory owners, the workers suffered heinously. Lyddie is no exception. 

When her father runs off in search of better fortunes for his family, leaving behind several young children [of which Lyddie is the eldest] and a mentally unstable wife, Lyddie steps in to manage the family's affairs. It's not long until her mother finally loses it and ships Lyddie and her younger brother off to work out the debts their father incurred while she prays for salvation with the two youngest children.

At first Lyddie dreams of returning to her family's farm & getting things back to the way they used to be. She holds on to the good memories she has while working her way towards a better future. Unfortunately the lights on her dreams are dimming with each bit of news she receives. Will she survive the tumultuous factory setting & thrive or will she just become another casualty in the war of progression?

Lyddie is an incredible read. While at times difficult to comprehend given the vernacular used, it still paints a realistic and accurate portrait of life in the industrializing era of United States history. Lyddie displays so much character & strength as she tries to do what's best for her family. What she sometimes forgets though is that she is still just a child herself and cannot solve every problem.

The setting & social issues represented in this book are spot on. From the Quaker family, to abolition, to hiring help, this book is an impeccable representation of a bygone time. While I do not wish to live it, the history that it represents is very important to the development of today's society. I find it incredibly fascinating that I can pinpoint to certain situations & scenarios that lead to particular events in history. This may be a small, rural area story, but that makes it even more vital to the history component. It shows that the situation was the same all over the place.

There wasn't a finalized resolution to the story & I think I prefer it that way because it allows me to dream up my own ending for Lyddie's life.

What are some of your favorite historical fiction books?

1 comment:

Bookworm1858 said...

I actually read this in seventh grade and found it a bit on the dull side since I had to analyze it and write a paper on it. But I wonder how I'd feel about it now as a big fan of YA historical novels.