#PubDay Non-Fiction Book Review | “Fannie Never Flinched” (One Woman’s Courage in the Struggle for American Labour Union Rights) by Mary Cronk Farrell

Posted Tuesday, 1 November, 2016 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I was selected to review “Fannie Never Flinched” by JKS Communications: A Literary Publicity Firm. JKS is the first publicity firm I started working with when I launched Jorie Loves A Story in August, 2013. I am honoured to continue to work with them now as a 3rd Year Book Blogger.

I received my complimentary copy of Fannie Never Flinched from the publicist at JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I was excited about this non-fiction picture book:

I’ve spent 2016 becoming acquainted with Women’s Rights & the Suffragette movement – gaining further insight into the plight of women who pioneered our future path to walk with freedom, dignity and the innate rights we were denied so long ago. Although readings on these topical subjects began originally when I first picked up a novel about the Shirtwaist Industry called Rivington Street by Meredith Tax; this pre-dates my blog Jorie Loves A Story; back when I was earnestly reading books out of the family library ahead of borrowing books from the local one. The book spoke to me in my early twenties and due to such a horrific testament of real-life, I had to take a break from pursuing to read more books with similar topics and themes.

Somehow 2016 became the year where I picked up the courage to continue where I left off, however, I did not exactly plan my path through Feminist Historical Literature nor have a pre-set focus on Women’s Rights, no what happened is truly quite an organic projectory of interest as stories alighted in my hands to read which hugged me closer to the truth that was not yet available to learn whilst in school. This is my third year as a book blogger and within that span of time I’ve learnt more about History from such a dynamic layer of interest and thought of presence than I ever did in the years ahead of my graduation! Imagine!? The authors who are writing Historical Fiction and Non-Fiction on select topics of Women’s Studies are carving out a new level of insight for today’s woman and young girls.

Girls do not have to grow up and wait til they can seek out the literature on their own to find the stories that are capturing those of us in our twenties and thirties who would have loved to have had the same stories available to us at their age. Publishers are being more cognisant of what today’s readerly audience needs and wants; as they are giving us more of the hidden stories that are shrouded from the historical past by biographers who never felt their light needed to shine. They are being pulled forward out of time’s capsule of secrets by writers who felt inspired by their life story and are presenting them to us in wonderful accounts across genre and range of interest.

This is why I was so thankful to find Fannie Never Flinched as it felt like nearly a capstone of honest readings where women championed a cause that enabled them to find progress at a time where that felt like it could be impossible to obtain. The Labour Rights for Women was definitely hard-won, but until this year, I hadn’t realised just how hard-won the battle was for us to gain those rights. There are such horrible things that happened to the original women who stood their ground and demanded better respect, pay and equality than we could ever fully imagine. We can have empathy and understanding for what they went through – but the physical, emotional and internal wounds they must have carried with them is harder to fathom. They are history’s heroines who allowed all of us the ability to stand firmer on our future paths for having carved out so many obstacles out of our way!

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#PubDay Non-Fiction Book Review | “Fannie Never Flinched” (One Woman’s Courage in the Struggle for American Labour Union Rights) by Mary Cronk FarrellFannie Never Flinched
Subtitle: One Woman's Courage in the Struggle for American Labour Union Rights
by Mary Cronk Farrell
Source: Publicist via JKS Communications

In Fannie Never Flinched: One Woman’s Courage in the Struggle for American Labor Union Rights Mary Cronk Farrell combines vivid prose, primary research and historical photos to reveal the life and death of one woman who helped pave the way for labor reform in the United States, illuminating the hard work, courage and spilled blood underlying the benefits many American workers enjoy today.
 
When immigrant women earning poverty wages in St. Louis sweatshops voted to strike, Fannie Sellins was there. When destitute coal mining families dared to unionize in West Virginia – and got thrown from their homes – Fannie was there. When hired gunmen threatened, beat and shot miners walking the picket line in Pennsylvania, Fannie was there.
 
In August 1919, when miners struck Allegheny Coal and Coke in Western Pennsylvania, mine operators would have paid any price to get rid of Fannie. They even threatened to kill her, but Fannie refused to stop her work helping strikers and their families. One muggy afternoon, violence broke out on the picket line and a crowd of people saw company gunmen shoot Fannie down in cold blood. Young people will learn that her killers never paid for their crime and how such injustice could happen in America.
 
Fannie Sellins (1872-1919) lived during the Gilded Age of American Industrialization, when men like Andrew Carnegie and J. P Morgan lived lives of luxury while their workers spent long hours laboring for poverty wages.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1884-7

Also by this author: Standing Up Against Hate

Genres: Artistic Adaptations &/or Picture Books, Biography / Autobiography, Non-Fiction, Women's Studies


Published by Abrams Books for Young Readers

on 1st November, 2016

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 56

Published By: Abrams Books for Young Readers (@abramskids)
an imprint of Abrams Books

Available Formats: Hardcover Edition

Converse via: #KidsLit, #PictureBook + #NonFiction, #WomensRights

Read more about Fannie on the author’s blog!

About Mary Cronk Farrell

Mary Cronk Farrell

Mary Cronk Farrell is an award-winning author of five books for young people and former television journalist with a passion for stories about women facing great adversity with courage. She researches little known stories from history and relates them with engaging and powerful language in her books, multi-media presentations and workshops. Farrell has appeared on TV and radio across the nation. She speaks to women’s groups, civic groups, and at museums, schools and libraries.

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This picture book comes alive the first moment you open the pages to view the photographs, easy-to-read typography and the eye-catching manner in which the book is set out to appeal to younger readers! The text is bold and there is an interior layout that begs to be read, understood and re-read to understand further! Each page has a fun approach at engaging a young reader to the story and to the topical subject being shared. This is done through a lively presentation of the facts, whilst pulling in a riveting story-line that would appeal to both those of whom are reading this book with their children and the child themself as they learn about a hidden part of Women’s History.

The story begins in 1919, where we learn about the tragic death of Fannie ahead of hearing her life’s story. Although I know this is typical of biographies, sometimes I find it easier to learn the end of a person’s life after I’ve read a recollection of what gave them the courage and the bravery to do what they accomplished with the time they had on Earth. Sometimes I think knowing how someone died, especially in Fannie’s case where the tragedy was so senseless, that it pulls you a bit out of the context of the book’s intentions. At least for me. It’s similar if you are a watcher of TCM (Turner Classic Movies) and like me, find that your ‘next favourite actor or actress’ is someone you would like to know more about – I’ve given up on seeking out information on the actors I’m learning about per each new ‘film’ I watch, as 9 out of 10 times I try to seek out a positive story on their behalf, I find their lives were even more tragic than the roles they portrayed. I think this is why I like having the death scenes or finality of a biography to be at the conclusion. Save the sorrow for the ending chapter and not have it precede the joy of learning more about the person who lived a life that was so dearly appreciated.

We arrive in 1897 (so close to when my great-grandparents were alive themselves!) where the sad reality of girls working in sewing factories is brought to light. Those machines could be deadly or at the very least injurious to young girls whose fingers might not realise the strength of the mechanism they were working on. I flashed back to all the stories – in fiction and in film, where factories were exposed for their bad working habits and traditions. It was not hard to imagine this sequence of Fannie’s life – but for readers just becoming exposed to those harder truths of the historical past, the text and the photograph of all the ladies lined up in tight rows working past deprivation of sleep and hunger proves the point along.

Hers was a hard upbringing but an honest one, too. She was put to work as soon as she could earn her keep; such was the tradition of the era. It was nothing to be gone all day (hours past what a child should be expected to do) and without proper treatment or provisions for the labour given. By the time news was arriving about the insurrection in the industry to rise above the issues and draw attention to the rights women needed most, Fannie rose in a new confidence to seek out how to join the fight.

The historical photographs become the living testimony to strengthen the context – showing real women and real events along the passageway of Fannie’s life. Fannie’s life was one that began and continued in poverty; she simply never was given a chance to get a leg up on anything but was expected to do what was called upon her to get done. This is the era where women had little say, no respect and even had a risk taken against them to speak out against what was unfair. The moxie it must have taken for her to start to put together organisation towards bringing in change!

She became a natural bourne activist – travelling and speaking to as many people as she could who would listen to what she had to say. It did not surprise me she took heed of the plight of miners and their families – as their plight was similar to her own and those amongst her peers. They were given less rather than more, asked to work hard and were provided so little in return. Their families lived in squalor and could barely get by, hence why I think Fannie took a breath of strength to realise that her cause had multiple cross-applications! Working conditions were inhumane in more than one industry!

All whilst she tallied and worked tirelessly towards change, time was against her; as her family moved forward without her presence most of the time. Even in regards to the change she was seeking, it felt distant and unattainable due to the backlash she was getting from those who opposed her efforts. Her death was unnecessary and brutal – spoken with earnest disclosure in the end of the book. This biography is not for the sensitive reader – so if a child isn’t yet emotionally ready to read or listen to the story in full, I’d find a way to gloss over the harder chapters until they reach the point where they can handle all the details. Sometimes children can surprise us and handle more information than we think they can process but other times, too much information can lead to nightmares. Although all the facts are presented quite humbly, I might draw concern that they are a bit too pointed for more sensitive readers who might not want to know those exact details.

What shocked me the most is how she died and how her legacy was tucked underneath a rug so to speak. She never saw justice – not in life nor in death, except that the fight she participated in did yield eventually to better rights in labour laws but the price was so high, you feel sorry for Fannie in the end. How she believed so rightly in standing together and standing strong yet she had a faction of people who were blinded by hate and prejudice who took her out without so much as a passing regret or ounce of remorse. This is the saddest part of uncovering historical artifacts of humanity’s past – sometimes you find that such horrid things can happen in the midst of someone trying to right a wrong.

I commend the author for her tenacity and her dedication to tell Fannie’s story! She truly found the spirit of Fannie in her research and her pursuit of how to voice her living history! She should truly be honoured by what she was able to leave behind and to help safeguard the memory of Fannie forevermore!

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This book review is courtesy of:

JKS Communications: A Literary Publicity Firm

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who picked up the same story to read.

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{SOURCES: Book Cover Art for “Fannie Never Flinched”, author biography, book synopsis, and reviewer badge were provided by JKS Communications and used with permission. Tweets are embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Ruminations & Impressions banner and the Comment Box banner.}

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Tuesday, 1 November, 2016 by jorielov in Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Children's Literature, Early Reader | Chapter Books, Fannie Sellins, JKS Communications: Literary Publicity Firm, Picture Book, Women's Rights




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2 responses to “#PubDay Non-Fiction Book Review | “Fannie Never Flinched” (One Woman’s Courage in the Struggle for American Labour Union Rights) by Mary Cronk Farrell

    • Hallo, Hallo Avalinah!

      I would have *loved!* this more if it hadn’t spoilt the whole ending! :( Also, what really shocked me is how this is told on a more adult level than a child’s point of view! I love the creativity of how this was put together – as it was quite authentic and felt as if you were ‘stepping’ into the newspapers and the historic past as these events were unfolding – but at the same time, goodness! I couldn’t let a child of mine read this until they were mature enough to handle how her life is disclosed! Hopefully, the ending before the beginning won’t shock them as much as it did me – like you, I prefer to have a smidge of wink of a ‘foreshadow’ but to get the whole ending? That was hard to process!

      Thanks for letting me know you spied this title in reference to visiting another post! Nifty!

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