Coming of age amidst the seething unrest of the Civil War era, feisty fourteen-year-old Katie McCafferty infiltrates the Molly Maguires, a secret Irish organization, to rescue a lifelong friend. Under the guise of Dominick, a draft resister, Katie volunteers for a dangerous mission in hopes of preventing bloodshed. Katie risks job, family, and ultimately her very life to intervene. A series of tragedies challenge Katie's strength and ingenuity, and she faces a crisis of conscience. Can she balance her sense of justice with the law? Call Me Kate is suitable for readers from eleven to adult. The story is dramatic and adventuresome, yet expressive of daily life in the patches of the hard coal region during the Civil War era. This novel will appeal to readers of the Dear America series, as well as more mature readers who will enjoy the story's rich context and drama.
If you’re a woman around my age, or have a sister, then you probably owned or knew someone who owned an American Girl doll. Call Me Kate: Meeting the Molly Maguires by Molly Roe felt very reminiscent of an American Girl book to me. While I’m not the target audience for this book, I think young girls who read middle grade books would thoroughly enjoy this story.
At first, I really didn’t think I’d like Katie because initially, she was a bit of a goody two shoes, and that doesn’t make for a particular dynamic or interesting. However, it was also clear that she was passionate, and her personality quickly changed and became much more interesting. It was excellent to see a character stand up for what she believes in, and still see some lighter moments incorporated into this turn of events.
I thought the plot of this story was very well thought out. I’ve never seen a book that deals with Irish immigrants in America around the time of the Civil War, and I appreciated that originality. In the midst of this plotline, Call Me Kate was a book which successfully confronted bigotry and prejudice, and I applaud Roe for that.
Call Me Kate may have been a bit young for my taste, but it was nonetheless a swift and enjoyable read. It’s also fun because at the end of the book there are a few educational activities and a vocabulary list. With all of these elements combined, I wouldn’t hesitate to pass this book on to a young reader.
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About the Author
Molly Roe is the pen name of Mary Garrity Slaby, a veteran language arts & reading teacher at Lake-Lehman Junior Senior High School. Mary holds a Ph.D. in education from Temple University, and Pennsylvania teaching certification in six areas. She has pursued the hobby of genealogy for the past decade. Mary was born in Philadelphia, raised in Schuylkill County, and currently lives in Dallas, Pennsylvania with her husband, John. They are parents of two grown children, Melissa and John Garrett, cover illustrator of Call Me Kate. Digging into the past has given Mary newfound respect for her ancestors and a better understanding of history. Call Me Kate is the first in the author’s trilogy of historical novels loosely based on the lives of the strong women who preceded her.