By: Donna Jo Napoli
The plight of the Irish people during the 1840s potato famine is told through the eyes of twelve-year-old Lorraine. Her father is a tenant farmer in County Galway, Ireland. She lives in a one-room house with her little brother, Paddy, her ma and her da. Lorraine wakes up one morning and hears her father yelling in the fields. The potato plants’ leaves have turned black overnight. Potatoes are the main source of food for most of the poor families in Ireland. Without this staple of their diet, the families will starve. While out foraging for greens for their supper, Lorraine befriends Susanna, their landlord’s spoiled daughter. Susanna doesn’t believe Lorraine when she talks about her family and friends that are starving to death. The families in her community are facing one of the harshest winters ever. They must decide if they will stay in Ireland or move to another part of the world where conditions might be better. This is a sad story that is sometimes hard to read, but it covers an important time in history. The back matter includes a glossary of Irish words, a bibliography, and a discussion of Irish history.