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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)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  4,346 Ratings  ·  151 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.
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published November 1st 2003 by Scholastic Inc. (first published 2003)
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Ana Mardoll
Dec 27, 2009 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
Carolynne
Mar 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Christy
Dec 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
I had trouble with the tis' and twas" that was so prevalent in the writing of Mary Driscoll. While I enjoyed reading about Mary in Ireland and even aboard the boat that brought her to America; I did not enjoy the story as much while she was in Lowell. I thought Annie and Aunt Nora were just too out there for me and left things a little unbalanced. It was a good read but not one I would re-read. I think the focus of the story was lost amongst the people in Mary's life.
Joey Oborne
Jun 06, 2017 rated it liked it
I liked this book,this book was about a girl named Mary Driscoll and she goes to America.
Yis2017
Jan 06, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Meghan
Nov 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Leta Blake
Dec 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
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 rated it did not like it
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!
Jerry
Oct 06, 2015 rated it liked it
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.
Andrea
Aug 01, 2011 added it
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
Priscilla Herrington
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 from 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
Sarah Crawford
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Teresa Crisosto
Jan 27, 2017 rated it liked it
I remember when i first heard the name. America visiting her aunt Nora, The were just her ma and her. As back as i could remember Kate and dad stayed behind. Ma would be baking morning and night while dad smoked his pipe as if it was last bowl. I could always smell a visit coming.
Mr. Corcoran. He found smoking his pipe below decks. Sean says the crewman talked about a fire aboard another ship early this year.
Annie Clark I think we were both surprised. I would have like to turn away, but narr
...more
Josephine
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-with-audrey
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 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shannon McGee
May 10, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Kelly
Aug 15, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Rebecca
Apr 01, 2009 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
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
Jennifer Bagazin
May 07, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Lauren
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Mateo
Nov 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Beverly
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Emily Rudder
Jun 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Vivian Mejia
Dec 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
So Far From Home: the Diary of Mary Driscoll, an Irish Mill Girl, Lowell, Massachusetts, 1847 by Barry Denenberg was a powerful book. It was really cool reading another one of the diary books. This time a girl Mary who 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. Mary experience lots of loneliness because she had to go to America and work without her parents or fam ...more
Elaine Shipley-pope
Apr 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
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
Leslie
Jan 30, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Rebecca
Jul 13, 2014 rated it liked it
This is my first book in the Dear America series. The format is a fictional story, followed by a chapter on the actual history of the times, plus photographs and copies of source materials related to the story. I found this to be an interesting story about a young girl immigrating from Ireland to America, only to end up working in the harsh conditions of a mill. The details of both the journey and the mill are brutal, but historically accurate. This is a quick read that should engage anyone who ...more
Kathleen
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,
...more
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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

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