Centering on the 1863 New York City draft riots, this historical novel abounds with political, racial and moral conflicts--and protagonist Katie O'Farrell is conveniently at the fore of them all. Just before the 1863 New York City draft riots, Katie works as a kitchen maid for the Laceys, an American family of British heritage with a house on Washington Square Park. While she serves tea and cake to the upper crust, she supports her father and siblings, who live in crowded quarters on the Lower East Side with other recent Irish immigrants. When a draft is instituted for soldiers to fight in the Civil War and Christopher Lacey is obliged to register, his parents offer Katie's brother Brian $300 to take his place. Meanwhile, New York's Irish community, enraged by the draft, angry at the abolitionists and frustrated with their lowly status, begins to riot, looting shops and lynching blacks. Holland's ( The Journey Home ) prose is prone to cliche (``Katie stared back at Mr. Lacey, her blue eyes blazing'') and the ending somewhat pat (Katie learns to see her black friend Jimmy as an individual who transcends his racial identity; Jimmy learns that not all Irish are the same), but the novel is well-researched and will appeal to those interested in this turbulent time. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/04/1994 Release date: 04/01/1994 Genre: Children's
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