Starting from ­Seneca Falls

Random. Jun. 2020. 240p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780593125052.
Gr 4-8–The setting is Seneca Falls, NY, 1848. Famine and war ravage Europe, cholera and malaria kill indiscriminately all over the world, and gold is found in California. There are many rules. One rule states children are never to speak unless spoken to. Another rule prohibits girls from learning math. There are many rules for white women, formal (women cannot vote or hold office) and informal (they should not defy their husbands or speak unless spoken to). Meanwhile, enslaved Black people are routinely and violently dehumanized. The novel opens with Bridie locked in a cell, again. Bridie is trouble; she asks too many questions and has opinions but she doesn’t have the privilege of speaking her truth. Rose is stubborn. She is a young Black girl who wants to be a scientist and helps free people from slavery. These are things girls just don’t do in America in 1848. When Bridie is sent to live on a farm as an indentured servant, she learns some rules are beyond unfair—they are inhumane. When she flees, she meets Rose, and together they encounter a cast of historical figures including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass, and Lucretia Mott, who navigate the organization of the human rights movement and, ultimately, the right to vote. With so many historical references, this novel is a strong example of historical fiction that could be utilized in U.S. history lessons on this important time period.
VERDICT A smart, relevant purchase for upper elementary and middle school library shelves.

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