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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)

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  3,091 ratings  ·  101 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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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
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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.
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!
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
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
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
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
Courtesy of Caity's Readviews:

Mary travels from Ireland to the U.S. to work in a mill so that she can earn money to send to her family at home. This Dear America story by Barry Denenberg is rich with imagery; it is very easy for one to picture the craggy shores of Ireland and the bustling streets of Lowell, Massachusetts while reading.

In the States, Mary finds her sister, who is now a wealthy woman’s personal maid and wants nothing to do with Mary. Mary then gets a job at a mill where women are
Ana Mardoll
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
Jennifer Bagazin
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
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
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 (Weaver of Dreams)
Jul 27, 2014 Crash Queen (Weaver of Dreams) 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
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
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.
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
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.
A very very good story about the life of Mary Driscoll who may actually be one of my ancestors. She wrote this diary probably not knowing it would every be published and read by lots of people. Its a great look into history. Like looking into a little window and watching her life as well as Aunt Nora's, a small bit of Sean's, her sister's and those of the Irish immigrants. I absolutely love it!!!!! My grandmother sent this to me a few months ago and i never thought to read it. But then one day I ...more
Elaine Shipley-pope
So Far From Home is the diary style book of a fictional girl named Mary Driscoll. She starts out in Ireland during the time where the potato crops failed. And like many families her family struggles to survive. So Mary joins her sister and aunt in America in hopes of working in the factories there in hopes of saving enough money to bring her parents over. The first part of the book covers her long ship voyage from Ireland to America then it goes on to follow her life working in the mills and lea ...more
This book is part of the Dear America series. I thought the book was engaging and well written. I was able to bond with the young Mary Driscoll. The writing was descriptive the perceptions seemed accurate for a fourteen yr. old girl. I would have liked the author to elaborate in the story itself regarding the mills and living conditions. The ending was too abrupt for my taste and I felt it would seem so to a young reader as well. There are other young reader authors who do a more complete job of ...more
Reading with Cats
Wait, what? What the hell just happened here? Mary's life sucks then she dies. At 17. Ugh. Stupid book.
Story of the why and what Irish immigrants faced. Based on historical facts and written like a diary.
The Dear America books are generally really good, especially when they focus on moments in history that can best be told through the diary medium. The plight of the Irish mill girls is definitely one of those moments, and Mary Driscoll is a very good character for it.

I do feel that the book could have done better, though? Mary Driscoll is definitely involved in that changing moment, but she seems almost peripheral to her own story after she arrives in America, and the book seems to just... end,
i like reading about history stuff.
This entire series is a wonderful way to learn history or teach it to adolescents. I find today's generations seem to recall more when they learn through other people (pop songs, celebrity gossip, etc.), so what better way to teach history than through someone else's perspective? Yes, "authentic" diaries would be "better", but would the language really hold the modern student's attention? Did the diary writer know what WOULD be important in the context of history? Probably not.
Kristina Dixon
Fascinating read and a wonderful history lesson. Loved it!
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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...
When Will This Cruel War Be Over?: The Civil War Diary of Emma Simpson, Gordonsville, Virginia, 1864 (Dear America) Early Sunday Morning: the Pearl Harbor Diary of Amber Billows, Hawaii, 1941 (Dear America) Elisabeth: The Princess Bride, Austria - Hungary, 1853 One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping: The Diary of Julie Weiss (Dear America) Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: The Diary of Bess Brennan (Dear America)

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