As the Civil War rages, another battle breaks out behind the lines. During a long hot July in 1863, the worst race riots the United States has ever seen erupt in New York City. Earlier that year, desperate for more Union soldiers, President Abraham Lincoln instituted a draft--a draft that would allow the wealthy to escape serving in the army by paying a $300 waiver, more than a year's income for the recent immigrant Irish. And on July 11, as the first drawing takes place in Lower Manhattan, the city of New York explodes in rage and fire. Stores are looted; buildings, including the Colored Foundling Home, are burned down; and black Americans are attacked, beaten, and murdered. The police cannot hold out against the rioters, and finally, battle-hardened soldiers are ordered back from the fields of Gettysburg to put down the insurrection, which they do--brutally. Fifteen-year-old Claire, the beloved daughter of a black father and Irish mother, finds herself torn between the two warring sides. Faced with the breakdown of the city--the home--she has loved, Claire must discover the strength and resilience to address the new world in which she finds herself, and to begin the hard journey of remaking herself and her identity. Addressing such issues as race, bigotry, and class head-on, Walter Dean Myers has written another stirring and exciting novel that will shake up assumptions, and lift the spirit.
- Paperback | 190 pages
- 133 x 203 x 11.43mm | 170g
- 06 Oct 2011
- Egmont USA
- New York, NY, United States
- black & white illustrations, maps
"In this fast, dramatic novel told in screenplay format, Myers takes on a controversial historical conflict that is seldom written about: the New York Draft Riots of 1863, when struggling Irish immigrants protested being called up by Lincoln to 'die for the darkies' in the Civil War. The story focuses on 15-year-old Claire, the biracial daughter of a black man and a white Irishwoman. The diverse voices, from all sides black, white, and mixed race; soldier and policeman; racist, looter, and victim will draw readers into the fiery debates. 'The swells are looking to send us off to fight for the Colored, ' says an angry Irishman who has nothing. 'Coloreds don't have nothing either, ' is one reply. There are no easy resolutions, idealized characters, or stereotypes, and the conflicts are unforgettable. A policeman does not want to shoot the looters. A weary soldier 'clean forgot what this war was about.' Maeve, a bigoted white teen, does change in the end, but only a little. Great for reader's theater, this is sure to spark discussion about race, class, conflict, and loyalty, then and now." --starred, Booklist
About Walter Dean Myers
Walter Dean Myers is one of the best known writers of children's literature working today. His work has received numerous awards, including two Newbery Honors, five Coretta Scott King Awards, the Michael L. Printz Award, the Margaret A. Edwards Award, two Lee Bennett Hopkins Awards, the ALAN Award, and many others, including the 2008 Arbuthnot Award from the ALA. This year, he is the first time winner of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, which will be presented at ALA in Washington. Besides writing, Walter loves collecting photographs and ephemera dealing with black history, and owns several pieces from this period, including an actual $300 waiver of the Civil War draft."