Kellyn's Reviews > Wildflower Girl

Wildflower Girl by Marita Conlon-McKenna
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's review
Feb 28, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: gepl, ireland, immigration, historical-fiction-juvenile

Thirteen-year old Peggy, her sister Eily and brother Michael barely survived the Great Famine in Ireland in the 1840s. They stumbled into the village where their two great aunts lived starving and sick, but alive. It is now about six years later and there is little business for their bread shop and only occasional work for Michael and Eily. The three siblings reluctantly agreed to immigrate to America; businesses in Ireland offered to pay passage to those who wanted to go. Eily and Michael change their minds about going; Michael found a part-time job in a large stable a few villages from their home, and Eily accepts a marriage proposal from a farmer who lives miles outside of their village. Peggy cannot decide what to do. On one hand she loves her family dearly and does not want to leave them; on the other hand there is no prospect for work for her and there will be no time or place for her to go to school. Finally she decides to go to America alone.

The story of Peggy’s forty-day trip to Boston conveys the wretched conditions endured by immigrants. During a particularly violent storm the hull begins to flood and two people drown. Many people become terribly ill and a few do not survive. Peggy endured the trip through the friendship of an Irish girl named Sarah who was traveling with her two older brothers. Peggy’s voyage was also eased somewhat by Mrs. Molloy and her family with whom Peggy traveled by cart to the ship.

After arriving in Boston, Peggy and Sarah find a boarding house to lodge and begin looking for work. Sarah finds work in a garment factory and Peggy becomes a domestic (maid). The struggles are enormous and exhausting yet both Peggy and Sarah settle into their new lives determined to survive.

Very realistic.

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