City of Grit and Gold by Maud Macrory Powell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The streets of Chicago in 1886 are full of turmoil. Striking workers clash with police…illness and injury lurk around every corner…and twelve-year-old Addie must find her way through it all. Torn between her gruff Papa—who owns a hat shop and thinks the workers should be content with their American lives—and her beloved Uncle Chaim—who is active in the protests for the eight-hour day—Addie struggles to understand her topsy-turvy world, while keeping her family intact. Set in a Jewish neighborhood of Chicago during the days surrounding the Haymarket Affair, this novel vividly portrays one immigrant family’s experience, while also eloquently depicting the timeless conflict between the haves and the have-nots.
I thought this was a fascinating look at a moment in history through the eyes of a twelve-year-old girl. I couldn't help loving Addie, a girl who feels more at home moving through the streets of her neighborhood than she does cooped up in her apartment or tending to customers at her father's shop. But as protests and strikes envelope her neighborhood, Addie must navigate her way through a changed world. This book is full of memorable secondary characters -- Addie's kind Uncle Chaim who sides with the workers, her mother who barely leaves her apartment and is torn between loyalty to her husband and worry for her brother, and her sister Miriam who has a secret of her own. The story is as much about a changing family as it is about a changing city, and this only serves to make the book even more enjoyable.