Books: Fiction

Bread and Roses, Too

Book — Fiction. By Katherine Paterson. 2006. 275 pages.
Moving young adult historical-fiction novel based on a major strike in Lawrence, Mass., in 1912.

Time Periods: 20th Century, 1910
Themes: Immigration, Labor, Organizing

breadA moving story based on a major strike in Lawrence, Mass. in 1912. With two teenagers as the protagonists, Paterson introduces the reader to the IWW, major figures such as Big Bill Haywood and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, multi-nationality worker solidarity, the role of labor songs, and the various tactics used by the company to undermine the strike.

“The famous ‘Bread and Roses’ strike of 1912 in Lawrence, Mass. is the setting for this novel written for young adults. Rosa, an Italian immigrant lives in tenement housing with her baby brother, widowed mother and older sister who both work in the mills. While they join in solidarity, the labor strike, Rosa worries about their safety and how her family will survive with no income. Jake, a few years older than Rosa, works in the mill to support himself and his alcoholic father and cannot go to school. These two characters meet and offer two different perspectives of many issues including, labor unions, working conditions, child labor, education, and immigration. Once again Ms. Paterson has created characters kids can understand and identify with, using an historic setting that makes this a book ideal for both Language Arts and Social Studies.” —Amy Miller, 7th grade Language Arts Teacher

ISBN: 9780547076515 | Houghton Mifflin