Last of the Name
Last of the Name
Twelve-year-old Danny O'Carolan and his sister, Kathleen, arrive in New York City in 1863, at the height of the Civil War. Kathleen finds a job in domestic service for herself and Danny, hoping to keep Danny from being drafted into the US Army as a drummer boy. As he explores the city and shares his talent for Irish dancing, Danny discovers the vast variety of New York's neighborhoods. With the threat of the draft pitting Irish immigrants against the free Black population, stoking tensions between the rich and the poor, and threatening the life Danny hopes to build, can he find a safe place to call home?
This book is such a gem. I am always on the lookout for different perspectives on overdone subjects, so I was excited to find a story set during the Civil War that was told from the perspective of Irish immigrants.
In this story we follow siblings, Daniel and Kathleen as they cross the ocean to escape Ireland for a life of freedom in America. But coming to the United States in 1863, things don't seem that much different than they were back at home. They are leaving behind tragedy and starvation in Ireland, only to find prejudice and war in America. Desperate to stay together, Kathleen convinces her younger brother to dress like a girl so they can both get a job in service to a wealthy family.
I adored Danny as a character - he has such a great voice and his observations are so smart and innocent. And Kathleen is such a strong female character. I loved her backbone - she knew what she wanted and stood up for herself and her brother. The sibling relationship is at the heart of the story and I found their interactions to be realistic and endearing. I also love the way the author included Irish music and dance in the story. Danny is a talented singer and dancer, but in Ireland, he is forbidden to sing Irish songs or dance Irish dances. When he realizes that isn't the case in America, he relishes this new freedom. This story made me want to listen to Irish music while I read!
The novel revolves around the events leading up to and immediately after the New York City Draft Riots - an event I hadn't read about before. This was a great introduction to it and left me wanting to know more.
The story touches on the terrible hardships of the Irish in Ireland under British rule, as well as the terror in the city during the draft riots but from the perspective of a child, keeping it from being too overwhelming for a child to read.
I also really appreciated the diversity of perspectives in this story - we see the Irish from our protagonist, but we also meet Italian immigrants, Jewish immigrants, and African Americans - giving a good picture of New York City in the mid-1800s.
I'm so glad I picked up this book - it is a wonderful addition to any Civil War unit.
Other Similar Books
Other suggestions on the subject of American Civil War.
- You Wouldn't Want to Be a Nurse During the American Civil War (by: Senior, Kathryn, American Civil War, LE, MG)
- You Wouldn't Want to Be a Civil War Soldier (by: Ratliff, Thomas, American Civil War, LE, MG)
- Pink and Say (by: Polacco, Patricia, American Civil War, LE, MG)
- Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero (by: Moss, Marissa, American Civil War, Sarah Edmond, LE, MG)
- Henry's Freedom Box (by: Levine, Ellen, American Civil War, Underground Railroad, LE)
- All Different Now: Junteenth, the First Day of Freedom (by: Johnson, Angela, American Civil War, Emancipation, LE)
- Bull Run (by: Fleischman, Paul, American Civil War, MG)
- Big Bad Ironclad! (by: Hale, Nathan, American Civil War, MG, UMG)
- Guts & Glory: The American Civil War (by: Thompson, Ben, American Civil War, UMG)
- Little Women (by: Alcott, Louisa May, American Civil War, UMG, YA)
- Blood and Germs: The Civil War Battle Against Wounds and Disease (by: Jarrow, Gail, American Civil War, Medicine, UMG)
- Fields of Fury: The American Civil War (by: McPherson, James M., American Civil War, UMG, YA)
- The Bloody Country (by: Collier, James Lincoln, Collier, Christopher, American Civil War, UMG, YA)
- Last of the Name (by: Parry, Rosanne, American Civil War, Irish Immigration, NYC Draft Riots, UMG, YA)
- Two Miserable Presidents: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About the Civil War (by: Sheinkin, Steve, Abraham Lincoln, American Civil War, YA, UMG)
- March Towards The Thunder (by: Bruchac, Joseph, American Civil War, Abenaki Nation, UMG)
- The Boys' War (by: Murphy, Jim, American Civil War, UMG, YA)
- A Nation Without Borders: The United States and Its World in an Age of Civil Wars, 1830-1910 (by: Freeman, Joshua, American Civil War, YA)
- This Republic of Suffering (by: Faust, Drew Gilpin, Death, American Civil War, YA, A)
- Crossing Ebenezer Creek (by: Bolden, Tonya, American Civil War, Sherman's March, YA, A)
- March (by: Brooks, Geraldine, American Civil War, Abolition, YA, A)
Other suggestions on the subject of Irish Immigration.