I Survived The Great Molasses Flood, 1919

Written by Lauren Tarshis
Review by Sarah Hendess

Tarshis’s nineteenth entry in her I Survived series packs a lot into its slim profile. Surprisingly complex, the book is both heart-wrenching and heartwarming, as well as informative.

In September 1918, twelve-year-old Italian immigrant Carmen Grasso and her father are scratching out a modest existence in Boston’s North End. Like most children in the neighborhood, Carmen and her best friend Tony often sneak up to the towering molasses tank nearby for a sticky treat. Tony loves it, but Carmen has misgivings. She heard the molasses is used to make bombs for the Great War. And why is the tank always leaking?

Tarshis skillfully draws a complete picture of life in the North End at the tail of World War I. Weaving together the horrors of the war, the Spanish Influenza, and the molasses flood, she shows young readers that no historical event occurs in a vacuum. Targeted for readers in grades 3-5, this book is recommended for all fans of the time period.