Hope in New York City: The Continuing Story of the Irish Dresser
This novel, geared to middle school students and including a bibliography and plans for lessons on immigration, is a sequel to The Irish Dresser: A Story of Hope During the Great Hunger. It is 1849, and 14-year-old Nora, who took ship from Ireland hiding in a dresser in order to escape the Irish Famine, is now living with her family in New York City. Survival is still a struggle, and Nora becomes a “newsboy” to earn money for life’s necessities. In what is possibly the book’s most arresting scene, she meets and confronts Walt Whitman, who shares the general Yankee prejudice against the Irish. She feels like an alien in her new land and dreams of returning to Ireland, but she is attracted by some aspects of American life. Gradually she finds friends here. There is a hint of a budding first romance, and another book in the series can clearly be expected.
The novel is full of convincing historical detail. Young readers should enjoy getting to know a courageous and engaging teenaged heroine, and they will learn a great deal about the Irish immigrant experience.