Rated 5 stars ***** 2002. Gracelin O’Malley #2. New American Library (Penguin Putnam). 378 pp. (Includes “Conversation Guide” and “Questions for Discussion.”)
Grace, Liam and Mary Kate have left Ireland and arrived in Liverpool, securing passage on the Eliza J, bound for New York City. Despite having paid in advance for a first class cabin, they have been relegated to steerage and it doesn’t take long to experience the horrors of sea travel, which was the lot of those trying to leave Ireland.
Despite a long journey rife with sickness, death, and treachery, Grace and the children arrive in Manhattan with the newly gained friendship of Captain Reinders, who befriended them on his ship. Housed with her brother Sean and his friends, they no longer need to struggle for their next bite of food or for a roof over their heads. Unfortunately, this was not the case in the nearby slums where thousands of newly arrived immigrants found themselves in conditions worse than what they had left behind in Ireland. Grace watches her brother’s loyalties fall away from Ireland and into the hands of a strange, new religion, befriends a slave family, and worries for the lives of her father and son as she tries to ind her place in this strange, new world.
The world of poor immigrants, compared and contrasted with those of free and bound slaves afraid for their lives due to the Fugitive Slave Act, abolitionists, and the cruelty and greed of the times is brought to life in Moore’s carefully researched novel. Readers will continue to be drawn to Grace’s strong presence, while being enlightened as to the struggles of slaves and immigrants in a new America not yet ready for change. I look forward to reading the final book in the trilogy “‘Til Morning Light.”
Highly recommended for Adult readers.