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So Far From Home: the Diary of Mary Driscoll, an Irish Mill Girl, Lowell, Massachusetts, 1847 (Dear America)
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So Far From Home: the Diary of Mary Driscoll, an Irish Mill Girl, Lowell, Massachusetts, 1847 (Dear America)

3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,841 Ratings  ·  122 Reviews
In the diary account of her journey from Ireland in 1847 and of her work in a mill in Lowell, Massachusetts, fourteen-year-old Mary reveals a great longing for her family.
Published (first published 2003)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Carolynne
A young Irish immigrant tries to make a life for herself after a grueling voyage to escape the Irish famine and to seek new opportunities in industrial Lowell, Massachusetts, despite the prejudice against the Irish, dreary living conditions, and the bad working conditions for women. This book is less focused and compelling than most entries in this series of fictional diaries of young girls in the early days of America. And the epilogue must be shocking and distressing for young readers, because ...more
Yis2017
A Book Review of So Far From Home
by Saung, Grade 7, Yangon International School

Imagine yourself being a teenage girl who transfers from Ireland to work in America without your parents, to earn money for the family and to stand yourself. How do you pass this life? Can you face these problems like Mary? But Mary did the best for her family although she was a teenage girl. Also she had to work in a spinning room that was noisy and dangerous. The Author Barry Denenberg is the author of several crit
...more
Ana Mardoll
Feb 23, 2011 Ana Mardoll rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ana-reviewed
So Far from Home (Massachusetts) / 0-590-92667-5

"So Far From Home" takes us through the life of young Mary, an Irish immigrant to America. She hopes to find work in a mill and send her wages home to her family, to feed them through the famine and - perhaps - one day bring them to America to live with Mary again, forever.

The plot is compelling, but flaws show through here. For one, the usual Dear America diary format has been jettisoned and the diary segments have been broken into "chapters" whi
...more
Jerry
Oct 06, 2015 Jerry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Quickie Review

A bit better than the other Dear America book that I read by this author...but still not as good as usual for this series. Fans of historical fiction can do much better.
Cindy Leighton
Reading this in preparation for an NEH seminar on the mills in Lowell, Massachusetts - how history dorks spend their summer I can't wait!! I remember my daughters reading these series when they were young - makes me miss them so much!!

Well told story focusing on one girl to illustrate the lives of thousands who suffered and fled the Irish potato famine to spend six weeks in horrid conditions on former slave ships only to reach the US and find the streets weren't paved with gold after all. Showin
...more
Sarah Crawford
Feb 02, 2016 Sarah Crawford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first part of the book goes into the story of Mary Driscoll and her life in Ireland at the time of the Great Famine. Ireland's main crop was potatoes, and when disease destroyed the potato crop many Irish starved to death, basically one out of every nine people living there.

Thus many Irish left their native country to move to America, hoping to find work there, save money, and help others move from their homeland to America. Mary Driscoll takes a job at a textile mill (actually, she ends up
...more
Josephine
The best part of this book was the historical note and pictures at the very end. As far as the novel went, it was really confusing! I read it so I could help Audrey with her school report and I was enjoying it at first, but thinking of it from a child's perspective (which it was written for) it did not make a lot of sense. Audrey didn't even catch the part about the potato famine in the beginning because it was so vague. It just said something about her dad waking up one day and finding slimy po ...more
Rachel
Sep 15, 2014 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kelly
From School Library Journal 10/1/1997

Gr 5-8?The story of 14-year-old Mary Driscoll's escape from the famine in her native County Cork, Ireland, and her new life working in a textile mill in Lowell, MA, is presented in brief diary entries dated from April to November 1847. The purpose of using a diary format seems to be to allow enough white space on the page to keep readers from being daunted by the flat language and plodding plot. The author uses expressions and Irish-like syntax to give the ef
...more
Leta Blake
The book ended abruptly just as it was getting interesting and then the epilogue was equally abrupt and a little cruel, stating with nary a lick of emotion that Mary died two years later of cholera. Period. The end. A miserable end to a miserable life. And while that is realistic, it's not a fun or enjoyable read. I give it two stars for being educational, unfortunately realistic, and for having a strong female main character.
Harle
Aug 10, 2011 Harle rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sad sad sad sad sad. Not a lived-happily-ever-after book; which I have no qualms against, but please, with this type of book, you might as well have not written the book in the first place if the main character's going to die- it's a bit pointless!
Amanda
This was, so far, my least favorite Dear America. (This is the 3rd I've read.) I was just getting into the story when it ended. I felt like it ended WAY too soon in the storyline and the ending itself was rather abrupt. There was, at least, the epilogue to wrap everything up in a page or two. But, it did gloss over what thought were important events in the story--I thought, "There's not more explanation? Or more to that situation?" I did appreciate gaining better perspective on the immigration o ...more
Beverly
Feb 10, 2014 Beverly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A good read, showing Ireland events, that prompt flight to America. I can't imagine sending 2 of my daughters to a country across the ocean, but I can understand the dangers of staying behind too.
Mary is the younger of 2 sisters sent to live with their aunt, in Lowell, Massachusetts. Mary chose to work in a factory, while her sister chose to keep house for a wealthy family.
This book also spins a good yarn about how the Irish were treated in the States. Irish filled a niche, as they were willing
...more
Priscilla Herrington
A Young Adult Novel, So Far From Home: the Diary of Mary Driscoll, an Irish Mill Girl, Lowell, Massachusetts, 1847 is part of the Dear America series of historical fiction.

So many novels about Lowell take place in the earliest days of the Industrial Revolution, when the mill girls were farmers' daughters form northern New England and the Irish were not allowed to work in the mills.

This book opens in Ireland as we meet Mary Driscoll and her family who are suffering in the Potato Famine. Mary trav
...more
Andrea
So Far From Home, The Diary of Mary Driscoll, an Irish Mill Girl by Barry Denenberg, one of the Dear America series.



When the story opens, Mary is in Ireland at the height of the potato famine. Friends and family members are dying. Others have gone to America in hopes of finding a brighter future. Mary's sister and aunt have already left for America, and soon it will be Mary's turn. When her ticket arrives, you can feel her excitement and sadness all at once. Excitement at starting a new life, s
...more
Rebecca
Mar 26, 2010 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fourteen-year-old Mary Driscoll and her family have lived in terrible poverty in the Irish countryside every since the potato famine began several years ago. When Mary is offered a chance to join her aunt and older sister in America, the land of opportunity, she jumps at the chance to seek a better life for herself. But after a long, stormy, and miserable ocean voyage, Mary arrives in America to find that it is nothing like she expected. She takes a job in a textile mill in Lowell, Massachusetts ...more
Shannon McGee
May 25, 2011 Shannon McGee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Mary Driscoll’s tale is a sad one indeed. She leaves her parents to go to America. As her parents starve she tries to save money for them. So they may travel to America to meet her and her sister. Mary works in a factory and instantly makes friends with another worker.

I have only read two book in the Dear America series so far, one in the Princess series and this one. It seems to me that the theme is to make the story heartbreaking and terrible to go through to make an interesting story. Not to
...more
Jennifer Bagazin
May 07, 2013 Jennifer Bagazin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: done
Y’know what I love about Dear America books? They provide history lessons while telling an interesting fictional story at the same time. I guess this is what you’ll call Historical Fiction. I am really fond of this series, and this book was no exception. I learned a lot after reading it, not only learning about the life of Mary Driscoll. I even got educated about the Great Famine. I heard about it of course but honestly I never really did know how what why and where it happened. It happened (app ...more
Jacy Richardson
The story's premise was interesting and the characters were likeable, but there wasn't much action in the actual book. If the book had been about everything that happened in its epilogue, it would have been much more interesting! The factual historical information section at the end redeemed it a little bit, but I could have just read a history book for that.
Emily Wahl
Jan 31, 2015 Emily Wahl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this book a girl named Mary Driscoll has to leave her home in Ireland and go to America. She has to leave, because it is the best thing to do for her family and herself. She goes on a stinky, old ship, where rats and Black Fever is. This girl is courageous, brave, and determined. Even when things get tough she fight through it, for her family, friends, and her life.
Lauren
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Natalie
May 27, 2015 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy reading historial fiction and learning about experiences from the past. I learned about work life from the industrial revolution from a worker's perspective. Although to fully understand the story it took some prior knowledge because it didn't truely explain the Ireland potato famine until the historical note at the end of the book.
Meghan
Aug 10, 2013 Meghan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dear-america
I have read this book many times but now after visiting Lowell I have decided to write a review. The author paints a very realistic picture of mill life. Touring the mills I was instructed to wear ear plugs because they still had looms in operation. Ever with a percentage of looms running from what they had back in Mary's day I could tell that I would not want to work there. A section of floor on the upstairs even vibrated from the looms below. Seeing, hearing and feeling all of this made me fee ...more
Sean
Mar 17, 2016 Sean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
In 1850 my great, great,great grandpa came to America with his mother and siblings. I had always wondered what that trip was like, a mother with 4 children. This book illustrated that voyage and the plight after they arrived. Though a young adult book it will follow with any family history I pass down.
Very well done and a wonderful read!
Maria Chiara
I like most of the Dear America books that I have read, but this one is not very good. The story is interesting, but the way in which this story in particular is written is choppy and does not flow well. The ending is much too sudden, and the epilogue in impersonal and disappointing.
Crash Queen (Whimsy and Stardust)
Jul 27, 2014 Crash Queen (Whimsy and Stardust) added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of historical fiction
"I cannot see with anyone's eyes but my own."

The Dear America series has been something I've enjoyed since I was a kid. I loved learning about the lives of each girl from a different time period and what they had to go through.
Sarah Jowett
Jul 19, 2014 Sarah Jowett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I saw this series on the Scholastic site and decided to try it for my son, who is 12, and loves the "I Survived" series and it seemed similar.

It was a very easy read for mad but definitely enthralling and I look forward to checking out more titles.
Lizz Locke
May 21, 2014 Lizz Locke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-books
The first time I read a book and watched it like a movie. My dad and my teacher both taught me how to make the pictures in my head, by using things I already know. Changed how I looked at reading forever.
Mateo
Nov 15, 2009 Mateo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned from this book what we were learning in class about Immigration. This book is a diary on an Irish female that was being shipped to america when the potato famine was occurring. Mary found new friends and got a job i the sewing mills.
I can connect this to my school because we read similar stories on Immigration/ Irish Immigration. THey were based on families that faced difficulties from the potato famine and some xenophobic Americans.
I gave this book 4 stars because it got boring at
...more
Kerri Simpson
Meant to be a harsh reality about life for irish immigration. For the intended audience and the realistic settings I think these books are all right.
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12691
Barry Denenberg is the critically acclaimed author of non-fiction and historical fiction. His historical fiction includes titles in the Dear America, My Name is America, and Royal Diaries series, many of which have been named NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People. His nonfiction books have covered a wide array of topics, from Anne Frank to Elvis Presley. After the publicatio ...more
More about Barry Denenberg...

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