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Audacity

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4.21  ·  Rating details ·  1,620 Ratings  ·  380 Reviews
The inspiring story of Clara Lemlich, whose fight for equal rights led to the largest strike by women in American history

A gorgeously told novel in verse written with intimacy and power, Audacity is inspired by the real-life story of Clara Lemlich, a spirited young woman who emigrated from Russia to New York at the turn of the twentieth century and fought tenaciously for
...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published January 8th 2015 by Philomel Books
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Ann Valdez yes, and I wish all 8th graders and high schoolers would read it.

Community Reviews

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Evie
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A riveting and illuminating story of incredible courage, endurance, persistence and fighting for a better tomorrow - not only for yourself, but for everyone.

This is a powerful novel written in verse. It's beautifully told and extremely compelling, but also vividly brutal and oftentimes completely heart breaking. The verse form gives this heavy and at times depressing tale surprising lightness. However, while supremely readable and - thanks to its form - quick to devour, it's also very substanti
...more
Caiti S
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was *really* fantastic. It is a YA historical fiction novel written in verse, based on the early life of feminist activist Clara Lemlich. I've heard very little about this book before I read it, which seems like a shame. It covers Clara's youth as a persecuted Jew in Russia in the early 1900's, the family's escape to the UK and then the US, Clara's experience being exploited and abused in NYC sweatshops, and finally her fight to start a union and becoming a significant and influential voice ...more
Katherine
”Have we not been told
all our lives
that a good girl
is obedient
biddable
meek?

I have never been
obedient
or
biddable
or
meek.”


All she may have had was audacity, but Clara Lemlich’s courage, determination and indomitable spirit are just as relevant today as they were back when she was making her mark on the world. With beautiful passages that had me moved to tears, Crowder deftly tackles the life of this remarkable young woman that history has seemed to forgotten.
Laura
Dec 30, 2014 rated it did not like it
I don't know why the author chose to do this as a novel in verse - it distracted me from the plot (which focuses on an important part of history that girls should know about) and caused a DNF. I ran this ARC past a few students and they were, like me, interested in the topic but the verse? It felt like a gimmick not a necessary device.

ARC provided by publisher.
Alex (not a dude) Baugh
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: randomly-reading
Living with her mother, father and three brothers in a shtetl in Russia, young Clara Lemlich's great desire is to go to school and get an education. But in her strict Orthodox Jewish family, education is limited to her brothers, who will follow in the footsteps of their father, praying and studying the Torah. But Clara has learned to read Russian against her father's wishes, and even after he destroys her few hard won books, she doesn't give up.

After the pogrom of 1903 against the Jews in nearby
...more
Kelly
This is an outstanding historical novel-in-verse about union rights at the turn of the 20th century. More, it's about the role of women in the labor rights movement, with a keen eye toward factory work (think Triangle Shirtwaist Factory). Clara is a daring, badass girl who disobeys her family's wishes in order to better the lives of those around her, as well as to better her own education and English skills. More, Clara is able to fall in love, even while pursuing every single thing she's passio ...more
Karen Callahan
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Read this book! Linger in the thoughtful words and let your mind wander over this amazing story. Clara was a pioneer for social justice who had massive influence on the NY sweatshops. Teachers, get this book in your student’s hands!
Erin
Sometimes I struggle with novels in verse, but this was elegantly done, and I found it not distracting at all. It seemed to allow for a lighter touch on some very tough issues - religion, immigration, family dynamics, women's issues, labor issues - that otherwise could have become too heavy and cumbersome.

I cannot say how much I LOVE that the author included an afterward as well as an interview with existing family members. What a wonderful tribute to the person of Clara Lemlich to so clearly ou
...more
Mariah Cordova
I really enjoyed reading this book. Being a fan of learning about history especially the indusial revolution era I found this book to be very interesting and it gave a point of view that I have not heard about. I like how the story started at Clara’s home in Russia and explained the trials she faced there. I also liked how it describes the trip. I feel that by making Clara the main character, it gave more of an insight to the refugees and immigrants at this time. It told the story that many face ...more
Brandy Painter
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

I may never have known Audacity by Melanie Crowder existed if it weren't for Book Riot's post on feminist YA books of 2015. Thank you, Kelly Jensen, for writing that article. I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere else, and that is a shame. This is a brilliant and moving book. And I may need to officially revise my stance on verse novels.

Audacity is the story of Clara Lemlich. It begins when she is a teenager living in her shtetl in Russi
...more
Jess
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am in awe of how this author pulled together the words to tell such a powerful story. Prior to reading this, I hadn’t heard about Clara and her life, and after reading, I want to find out more about others who fought during the time.
Dee
Aug 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
One of my favorite things to do (if I have the time) at the library is to just browse the new releases/new purchases shelf and see if there is anything that catches my eye. While I was looking at the young adult shelf a couple of weeks ago, there was something about Audacity that made me pick it up. I can’t explain exactly what it was, but the cover caught my eye, as did the brief description on the book flap – so I said, what the heck and added it to my stack of books. I will say that I didn’t ...more
Ricki
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an inspirational book in verse based on the true story of Clara Lemlich. She was a Russian Jewish immigrant who was forced to work in horrible factory conditions in the early 1900s. Clara stood up for her rights and fought with the union. What I liked most about this book is the author gives so much information about Orthodox Judaism, unions, and feminism, but she doesn't hit readers over the head with the information. I don't enjoy reading books about religion, and I don't particularly ...more
Book Riot Community
This historical novel-in-verse, based on the life of Clara Lemlich, is a brilliantly feminist exploration of the labor rights movement at the turn of the 20th century. After having to flee their home country of Russia because of anti-Jewish sentiment, Clara’s family immigrates to New York City, where she’s forced to take up a job to help support the family. Clara, who craves an education and wants to learn English to better herself, begins taking classes after work to carve out something for her ...more
Vicki
I thought this book in verse was an incredibly good read! The story of Clara Lemlich is that of a Jewish girl in Russia who witnessed and lived through the pogrom there. She and her family, which in the story include her mother and father and brothers, Marcus, Nathan, and Benjamin, migrated to New York via a boat carrying 1000's of immigrants. What they went through on that journey alone was heartbreaking, as many experienced horrible illnesses and even death.

One aspect of the book that I loved
...more
Brittany
Aug 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminist, ya, historical
Read and Reviewed for School Library Journal (issue 2014-10-01):

**STARRED REVIEW**
Gr 7 Up—Written in verse, this novel is loosely based on the life of Clara Lemlich Shavelson, the leader of New York shirtwaist strike of 1909. Clara and her family are Jewish Russians who flee the anti-Semitism of turn-of-the-century Russia to find a better life in America. However, Clara still experiences gender and religious oppression in New York. She is unable to gain the education she desires, because she is
...more
Hannah
Dec 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is historical fiction about the early life of Clara Lemlich written in free verse.

If you, like me, had no prior idea who that was, be aware that the book is a slightly fictionalized account, changing around some details about family members and dates and imagining the rest, but the framework is there. Clara Lemlich was a feminist factory organizer in 1900s New York, probably most famous for organizing strikers after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire that killed 150.

I have a sneaking susp
...more
Rebecca
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
I would never have thought I would have enjoyed a book written in verse this much, but it was special. It was about a girl at the turn of the century who worked in a sweatshop and started a union. Based on a true person and story.
Jane
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jane by: Lexi Steckel
Clara is amazing and the things she did are astounding. I loved that this was written in verse. That made the beatings and harassment a little easier to read about for the briefness, though no less impactful. This should be required reading.
The Book Girl (Andrea)
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing

”Have we not been told
all our lives
that a good girl
is obedient
biddable
meek?

I have never been
obedient
or
biddable
or
meek.”


Right now I am on a kick of reading books in verse. Audacity was by far one of my absolute favorites that I have read thus far. It was a riveting story of courage, persistence, and fighting for what matters. It was also about being selfless and thinking about others.

This is a book in verse that honestly was heartbreaking to read at times. It was extremely compelling to flip t
...more
Francis Camama
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historic-fiction
The story of Clara Liemlich is a unique tale of courage and strength told through the medium of verse. Crowder does an amazing job at portraying the unrelenting passion Clara had in learning and in books. I am not well versed in history nor do I know much about the time period this was set in but I found out so much about the attitudes and way of thinking of the people back then. Just such a real story that brings into light the trials a young woman would have in the early 1900's.

One of my favor
...more
Alexandra Sturgell
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this novel. The first couple of pages were a little difficult to read just because it is written in a different format and it does not straight up tell you what you want to know. As a reader while reading this book you have to use a little more outside thinking so you can understand what is going on. I really enjoy reading books that cause you to think more about what is going on and allow you to picture what is happening. If that is something you like to do as well I wo ...more
Judy
Although any reading group has its downsides and upsides, one of the benefits is reading a great book I might never have found on my own. Audacity was a reading group pick and an example of such a boon.

It was shelved in the library as Young Adult. While I think it would make good reading for any teen, it is also a fine adult book. It is written in lovely free verse but it reads like prose.

Clara Lemlich was a real person whose life is fictionalized in Audacity. She was born in the late 1800s on
...more
Julie Suzanne
As far as novels in verse go, this may be the most beautifully written. Worth re-reading and cherishing both for its language and style as well as for the incredibly inspiring story of Clara Lemlich and her relentless, selfless efforts toward social justice. Her "hunger for knowledge" also warmed my heart and forged my admiration of her. Be sure to read the appendix information, especially the interview with her grandchildren, because it wasn't until I read it that I realized that Clara isn't so ...more
Kathy Whitmore
I can't wait to read Audacity again. It's the kind of book you want to read through, talk to other readers, read through again, talk some more. Think about the bigger historical context, and maybe read again. I loved the symbol of the birds throughout and I want to think more about that - which birds appear when? I want to read Lyddie, by Katherine Patterson again and think about the two books together (I haven't read Lyddie in decades, but I loved it.) I want to share Audacity with my friend Ye ...more
Morgan Kohl
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This historical fiction book was absolutely the best book I have read in this class so far. It really opened my eyes to how immigrants came here and what they had to go through in order to achieve a better life. I actually finished this book in one sitting which is very unusual for me because I read pretty slow in order to have a grasp on each book. However, this book blew my mind. I really enjoyed the poem and creative aspect to it; it is written very differently than how I had imagined it when ...more
Carrie Berry
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
Beautifully written.
Alex
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazing. Every single word is crafted to perfection.
Chris
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Historical fiction novel-in-verse based on the true story of a woman who had the audacity to help change and improve working conditions in the early 1900s (at a great personal cost) through her stubborn determination and belief that life could be better if workers united together and stood up for what was right. The truth about American history is often ghastly and shameful.
Cassidy Brooks
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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Melanie 1 4 Apr 06, 2017 07:13AM  
DC Public Library: Audacity by Melanie Crowder 1 10 Sep 28, 2015 01:00PM  
The Young Adult H...: Audacity - June's Group Read 3 16 Jul 01, 2015 01:44PM  
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Melanie Crowder graduated in 2011 with an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of THREE PENNIES, AN UNINTERRUPTED VIEW OF THE SKY, A NEARER MOON, AUDACITY, and PARCHED.

A West Coast girl at heart, Melanie now lives and writes in the beautiful state of Colorado.
More about Melanie Crowder

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