The inspiring story of Clara Lemlich, whose fight for equal rights led to the largest strike by women in American history
A gorgeously told novel in verse written with intimacy and power, Audacity is inspired by the real-life story of Clara Lemlich, a spirited young woman who emigrated from Russia to New York at the turn of the twentieth century and fought tenaciously for equal rights. Bucking the norms of both her traditional Jewish family and societal conventions, Clara refuses to accept substandard working conditions in the factories on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. For years, Clara devotes herself to the labor fight, speaking up for those who suffer in silence. In time, Clara convinces the women in the factories to strike, organize, and unionize, culminating in the famous Uprising of the 20,000.
Powerful, breathtaking, and inspiring, Audacity is the story of a remarkable young woman, whose passion and selfless devotion to her cause changed the world.
“Crowder breathes life into a world long past and provides insight into the achievements of one determined woman… Compelling, powerful and unforgettable.” –Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“With historical notes, interviews with Clara’s family members, and a glossary of Yiddish terms, Audacity is an impactful addition to any historical fiction collection.” –School Library Journal, starred review
Melanie Crowder graduated in 2011 with an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of AUDACITY (Philomel/Penguin) and PARCHED(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013).
A West Coast girl at heart, Melanie now lives and writes in the beautiful state of Colorado.
We writers get our inspiration and story ideas from everywhere and everything. Overheard conversations at the park, a childhood memory just resurfacing after decades lying dormant, and perhaps most especially, from other artists.
In college, I studied Fine Arts—a big portion of visual art, a medium-sized helping of music, and a tiny slice of creative writing. My arms still remember the fluid dance of conducting. My skin remembers the heat of flame arcing off a welding torch. My hands remember the slippery, ribbed walls of a vessel spinning on the pottery wheel. What I didn’t know at the time is that in all that exploration, my voice was forming. I was laying the groundwork for metaphor and imagery and story I would call upon many years later.
I would be in a very different place today if I had studied only writing in college, and taken jobs only in writing and had dreams for the future that only held writing from the beginning. Maybe I would have published a dozen novels by this time, or maybe I would have burned out early. Publishing is tough, and writing, like any art form, takes tithes of the soul.
I like to think I found my dream of writing at just the right time. It waited until life had seasoned my convictions and tinted the lenses through which I view the world. Now when I’m searching for story, I look back, and I also look around me. I have things to learn about my own work from artists of all kinds. I find it fascinating to listen to film directors’ commentary on metaphor and scene and theme. To watch fashion designers conceptualize, edit and reconceptualize. To listen to chefs speak about layers and complexity and flavor profiles.
When teens ask me what they should do to become a writer, my answer often goes something like this: Follow your passions. Try new things. Don’t be afraid of failure. Go out and see the world, live in the world. There you will find the stories that are uniquely yours. There you will find the artist you hope to be.