Book review: Last of the Name, by Rosanne Parry

Parry, Rosanne. Last of the Name. CarolRhoda, 2019. $17.99. 334p. ISBN 978-1-5415-41579-7. Ages 12-14. P6Q7

Left with only Granny as their family, 12-year-old Danny O’Carolan and his older sister Kathleen leave Ireland for New York alone after Granny dies during the voyage. Prejudice hits them from all directions—blacks for taking their jobs and whites for being Irish. Kathleen persuades Danny to dress as a girl to get a job, but he hates the way that he must dress. The Civil War draft riots leaves them without a job, a home, or money, but Danny’s connections from secretly raising money by dancing on the streets give them hope.

Verdict: Parry covers the historical angst of the times—poverty, bigotry, class inequality, slave work for the Irish as well as the black—plus the way that wealthy people buy their way out of the war draft. Danny’s and Kathleen’s lives are always unsatisfactory, and the angst sometimes becomes overwhelming.

May 2019 review by Nel Ward.