TORCHLIGHT by Carol Otis Hurst


Age Range: 8 - 12


Novels with the theme of prejudice are often set in the south, but this one takes place in western Massachusetts in 1850 and is based on a real incident in which tensions between white Protestants and Irish Catholics erupted into violence. As told through the eyes of Charlotte, a Yankee fifth-grader, her newly formed friendship with Irish Maggie becomes a small and puzzling cog in the big wheel of bigotry. As Charlotte tries to counterbalance her temperance-touting aunt’s bias, her brother’s hatred of the Irish and her uncle’s efforts to promote Irish workers in his whip factory, her discovery of the insufferable conditions that Maggie and other immigrants must endure brings home the reality. The girls’ friendship is genuine; Charlotte’s voice is believable, though sometimes naïve; and the dialogue segments between the girls reflect a child’s simplistic viewpoint. The photo cover of two girls lacks appeal for this serious story, which can pique discussion about times and places when family and friends choose opposing sides. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-618-27601-7
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Walter Lorraine/Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2006


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