Young and Restless: The Girls Who Sparked America’s Revolutions

Viking. Jun. 2023. 368p. ISBN 9780593299067. $29. HIST
Award-winning writer/editor Kahn writes about teenagers who helped foment change during critical eras in United States history. The book profiles Harriet Hanson, who at age 10 started working at Tremont Mills in Lowell, MA, to help with her family’s financial needs. At age 11 in 1836, it was Hanson who helped lead her older coworkers in a strike for better treatment. The book also portrays Anna Elizabeth Dickinson, who was 13 when her anti-enslavement article was published in an 1856 edition of The Liberator, an abolitionist newspaper owned by William Lloyd Garrison. In 1912, more than 10,000 women determined to gain voting rights lined up for a parade down New York’s Fifth Avenue behind Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, a Chinese American teenager who rode atop a white horse. This book has catchy chapter titles, such as “Material Girls,” “The Mouth on That Girl,” and “Stream of Consciousness,” and some readers may be put off when the author questions what turns girls into women. Both aspects undermine the book’s scholarship and serious intent.
VERDICT Kahn covers history up to the present and considers the role of social media for young women engaging with today’s challenges. Best suited for school and large libraries.
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