The Aunt Solution (Libby Series Book 1)
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It had been over two weeks since she and her parents had eaten a nutritious meal. With the financial help of an aunt and older sister in America, fourteen-year-old Mary Driscoll bids a tearful good-bye to her parents and boards the ship for Boston and a new life of hope in America. Mary's dreams of gold-paved streets dissolve as she disembarks into the whirlpool of noise and confusion that is Boston harbor on the evening of June 22, The kings and queens that Mary has imagined melt into throngs of Irish beggars, hopelessly staring into the distance with unseeing eyes.
In an attempt to bolster her waning courage, Mary reasons, "What could be worse than what I had already seen back in Ireland? She experiences first-hand the disdain American workers harbor. However, through her selflessness, hard work, simplicity, and honesty, Mary earns friends among the American mill girls. As a mill girl, she learns the realities of factory life from the long hours of tedious labor coupled with the constant deafening noise of the power looms to the grim realities of seeing workers lose their fingers, hair , and even their lives to the unyielding, unsafe machinery.
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So Far From Home: The Diary of Mary Driscoll, an Irish Mill Girl provides a glimpse into the life of a girl who only seven months earlier had been "huddling against the inside wall of the ship" gripping her possessions and humming her mother's lullaby. As we read her diary, readers watch Mary mature into an assertive, caring young woman who has crossed not only the Atlantic, but also the barriers ignorance and prejudice have erected.
Discussion Guide written by Richard F.
Abrahamson, Ph. Pavonetti, Ed. Students learn about the effects of immigration on American history and culture with a variety of resources for each grade level. Create a List.
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Which of the Driscoll sisters would you prefer to be friends with? When Mary comes to America she finds that Irish girls are not always treated kindly. What are some examples that show the poor treatment of these new immigrants? One of the problems mill girls faced was that working in the factories was not very safe. From Mary's diary, list some examples that illustrate just how dangerous work in the factories could be. One of the mill girls, Laura Austin, was fearful that her name might be placed on "the list. Mary's experiences in America change her.
By the time Mary has written her last entry in the diary, how has she changed from the girl sh was when she left Ireland? Mary asked herself what could be worse than what she had seen back in Ireland. What do you think was the worst experience Mary encountered: the conditions during the famine in Ireland; having to leave her parents and journey alone to a foreign country; living in filthy, sub-human conditions on the ship or working in the mills?