Monday, January 01, 2007

Bread and Roses Too

Many of you are familiar with other novels by Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia and Jacob Have I Loved. This new work takes you on a trip into the past in Lawrence, MA and the strike by the workers in 1912. The two main characters are Rosa, a serious, studious, immigrant whose widowed mother works in the mills to keep her family very meagerly and Jake, an American boy who is a petty thief and the son of a drunk who beats him regularly.

Rosa offers Jake a place to sleep in the family’s apartment one night, then meets him later again. The information about the strike is factual in this novel, the mill owners did send agents to Europe to bring in immigrant labor promising wealth and riches. The reality was that in order for a family to survive, every able person had to have a job. Rosa being able to go to school was truly a sacrifice for her family.

Jake finds the strike exciting, and in his mind he is somebody.

Some of the children are being sent to other places so that they can have food. Jake has a terrible secret and thinks he can escape it. Rosa thinks she is being sent to New York City and he wants to go to disappear in the city. Instead she and Jake end up going to Barre, VT. It is while they are here that both of the children change dramatically – probably Jake is more changed than Rosa.

What a wonderful way for you to learn about one of the labor movements (Industrial Workers of the World) in American history. For more information on the strike:
Bread and Roses Strike,
Lucy Parsons Project,

Camella Teoli Testimony about the Textile Strike of 1912.


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