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Edith Shay Hardcover – October 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 11 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 840L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile; Library Binding edition (October 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670875988
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670875986
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,081,111 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The intricate descriptions and leisurely pace that served LaFaye well in her remarkable debut, The Year of the Sawdust Man, prove a stumbling block in this coming-of-age story set in 1865 Chicago. High-spirited and impulsive by nature, 16-year-old Katherine feels stifled growing up in the woods of Wisconsin. Reading provides her only stimulation, and her parents' urgings to marry "some country boy" and stick close to home make her feel like a misfit. Her wish "to marry a city gentleman who would treat me like a lady and take me to the far reaches of the country" leads Katherine on a difficult road of hard labor and self-doubt, first as a night cook in Chicago and then in a printer's shop in Philadelphia. In the process she takes on a new name (Edith Shay), discovers how little her previous life has prepared her for fending for herself and develops a strong faith in the kindness of strangers and her own resilience. As in her first novel, LaFaye offers a multidimensional portrait of a young woman in transition, one capable of seeing her flaws and rising above them, revealed in poetic and poignant language. While the theme of adventure is somewhat derailed by the time it takes for the plot to unravel, readers inclined toward self-reflection will be hooked by Katherine's commitment to figuring out who she is, how she feels about her family and what she envisions for her future. Ages 11-up.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-8-Katherine Lunden has always longed to go to faraway places. In 1865 when she is 16, she leaves her Wisconsin home, makes her way to Chicago, and finds a lost suitcase bearing the name of Edith Shay. In the big city, Katherine takes a job as a seamstress, and on a whim, assumes the name on the suitcase as her own. She becomes homesick very quickly, but her parents write that their home is now closed to her because she has betrayed them by leaving. Too proud to return home, she decides to go to Richmond, VA, to return Edith's suitcase. On the way she is robbed and learns that not everyone can be trusted. Still, she then takes a job with an unscrupulous Scrooge-like man. Throughout her travels, Katherine is told that she needs a husband and family. She discovers, however, that she can be self-sufficient despite the conventional wisdom of the day. Although this story is set as the Civil War is ending, it is more of a character study than a historical novel. There are a number of period details, especially about the role of women; the clothing of the day; and of Chicago, Washington, and Richmond as they looked then. Largely, though, this is the story of a young woman who goes against the customs of her time. Readers learn of her hopes and dreams, her insecurities and her strengths. And while Katherine does travel far and have many adventures, there is more introspection than action. The book's main appeal will be to readers who can identify with her independent spirit.
Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro,
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By A Customer on January 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Edith Shay (or is that Katherine Lunden?) is an intriguing book. This young woman in the post-Civil War era leaves her confining Wisconsin farm home and journeys by herself to Chicago, a town she couldn't even imagine. The book realistically portrays how difficult it would have been for a lone woman (young girl, really) to find her way around the country, find a safe place to stay without any money (she has none to begin with and is robbed later on), and find a job without any skills or recommendations. Katherine is a winning character, with old-fashioned sensibilities that transfer well to the modern day. And, while this is a slower-paced book, take the time to savor the details of the era (A. LaFaye has a tremendous knowledge of history) and the friendships Katherine makes on her journey. I sure hope there's another Edith book forthcoming. I want to know what happened to her next!!!
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By A Customer on September 23, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Sixteen year old Katherine wants to get away from her boring home in the Wisconsin woods. So she buys a ticket and hops onto a train to Chicago, anticipating an adventure. What she finds is a crowded city of strangers, homesickness, and the shock of having to fend for herself. Katherine is on her own now, with only the phantom owner of an abandoned suitcase labled "Edith Shay" that Katherine found in a Michigan train station. Will Katherine pursue her dreams or turn back in faliure? Read this great book to find out!
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By bandit on July 4, 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This was an ok book to me. Not a bad read just not really what I had expected it to be.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Edith Shay was a wonderful book. It contains an accurate description of the technology and clothing that were common for the era. Chicago, Wasington, and Richmond are well portrayed. Ms. LaFaye wove this captivating story which easily grasps the reader. However, the story and plot dragged and was not grade level reading for an eigth grader but is great for fifth and sixth graders.
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