Review Blog

Apr 05 2018

Lucy's dawn by Juliet Blair

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National Library of Australia, 2018. ISBN 9780642279170
(Age: 10+) Fourteen-year-old Lucy's life changes when she starts a job working in Louisa Lawson's printery, where only girls and women are employed. But it's the late 1880s and the male printers elsewhere think that this work should be for men only. So they decide to make the girls' lives difficult! Lucy has many battles ahead but, in the process, she realises who her real friends are - and finds her first love.
As a lover of historical fiction I am pleased to say that it ticked a lot of boxes. Written as diary entries from the viewpoint of Lucy Coombes, in late 1800s Sydney, the reader is drawn into the interesting life of Louisa Lawson, the mother of Henry Lawson. I had no idea she was such an influential suffragette, printer and writer. The group of young girls who were employed by Mrs Lawson faced the constant threat of being shut down and bullying from men who thought women were better served at home. The historical notes are an added bonus but I did find myself wanting to do my own investigating. Do not be perturbed by the blur that says 'first love' as it is all very innocent and interwoven into the story beautifully.
Themes such as friendship, the desire for independence and persistence are evident - the book would appeal to students from ten and up. I do not think it would work as a read aloud but I could see a teacher sharing snippets of it to students to help them gain a better understanding of Early Australia.
Kathryn Schumacher

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