A masterfully told historical is what you’ll find in the award-winning Call Me Kate: Meeting the Molly Maguires by Molly Roe.
Catherine “Katie” McCafferty is an Irish immigrant living in the Patch. Coal mining is a large industry in Pennsylvania, and poor working conditions, being paid in script, and the ever-present danger of working in the mines complicates the lives of those living in the Patch.
Tragedy comes to Katie’s family and she is forced to leave school and take a job as a domestic to help her family survive. The Civil War has burbled along for months, but when the northern draft is enacted in the fall of 1862, new troubles fall on people in the Patch. Now breadwinners are expected to leave the mines and fight in Lincoln’s War, further tightening the noose around their necks.
In order to rescue a lifelong friend from the escalating violence, Katie disguises herself as a draft register and infiltrates a secret Irish organization, hoping to prevent bloodshed. But what will happen if her ruse is discovered? And can Katie balance her sense of justice with the law?
Historical fiction has always been one of my favorite genres. As someone who has studied the Civil War, I had heard of the Molly Maguires, but honestly I never researched this organization fully. Historians are conflicted on their views of the Mollies, with some believing the organization used intimidation and violence against the mining companies; whereas others believe the Mollies were victims of more violence than they ever stirred up.
In Call Me Kate, Katie’s lifelong friend and potential suitor is drawn into the Mollies after a tragic accident. She fears for Con’s life and decides she must infiltrate the organization in order to convince Con to stop what the Mollies are planning. This is a dangerous scheme, as not only must she pose as a man, it’s possible she could be recognized by other residents of the Patch.
Roe has created a superb coming-of-age story with a relatable, likeable, independent-minded heroine who is willing to do whatever it takes to save her family and Con. The author’s attention to detail and knowledge of the region add much to this book.
Young adults will be captivated by Katie’s story and looking forward to the next two books in Roe’s planned trilogy of historical novels based upon her ancestors. After reading Call Me Kate, I know I’m eager to read them.
Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
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Molly Roe is the pen name of Mary Garrity Slaby, a veteran language arts & reading teacher at Lake-Lehman Junior Senior High School. Mary holds a Ph.D. in education from Temple University, and Pennsylvania teaching certification in six areas. She has pursued the hobby of genealogy for the past decade. Mary was born in Philadelphia, raised in Schuylkill County, and currently lives in Dallas, Pennsylvania with her husband, John. They are parents of two grown children, Melissa and John Garrett, cover illustrator of Call Me Kate. Digging into the past has given Mary newfound respect for her ancestors and a better understanding of history. Call Me Kate is the first in the author’s trilogy of historical novels loosely based on the lives of the strong women who preceded her.