I recently read Lyddie, by Katherine Paterson and I couldn't put it down. Why?
1. Ms. Paterson followed the most important rule of writing by creating a character readers care
about. I liked Lyddie as a person, and was willing to stick through 200 pages with her to make
sure things turned out in her favor.
2. Ms. Paterson grabbed me with all of the sights, sounds and smells of the time period. I felt like I
was on a farm in Vermont, and then in a filthy, crowded factory in Massachusetts.
3. She didn't preach. I felt what it was like to be a factory girl, working long days in a hot, noisy
factory with the windows nailed shut, going back to the corporate housing so exhausted that one
could only collapse into bed.
4. She seamlessly wove in history. (Minus the preaching, -see above) The Underground Railroad,
the plight of the runaway slaves, the courage, fairness and kindness of the Quakers are shown
through well-crafted characters and plausible plot events, not pedantic tirades.
For young adults, this book would be a great lesson in the 1800's prior to the Civil War. Debates could be launched on the obvious topic of workers' rights, but also on the issue of why more factory workers in crowded northern cities were unable/unwilling to take on stronger roles as abolitionists.
For aspiring writers of any age, this book would be a great lesson in writing historical fiction that grabs the reader.