So Far from Home: The Diary of Mary Driscoll
The first part of the book goes into the story of Mary Driscoll and her life in Ireland at the time of the Great Famine. Ireland's main crop was potatoes, and when disease destroyed the potato crop many Irish starved to death, basically one out of every nine people living there.
Thus many Irish left their native country to move to America, hoping to find work there, save money, and help others move from their homeland to America. Mary Driscoll takes a job at a textile mill (actually, she ends up doing several different jobs over time). Working conditions were horrible by today's standards.
There was, as with other groups of foreigners, a problem with prejudice against them, one of the main historical ways being signs that stated that No Irish Need Apply for a job (NINA) in the windows of various businesses. These books help people realize that almost every single group of people who migrated to America has been met with prejudice and, at times, even violent opposition. Irish, Poles, Mexicans, on and on the list can go. Over time the earliest groups have become accepted into society, but even in today's world their still is much distrust of "those foreigners."
Thus, books like this help us to learn that, for many groups of people, life in the U.S. has, to put it mildly, not been a bed of roses and that the same type of things happen today, showing that people have not learned from history. Perhaps books like this will cause at least some people to rethink their own prejudices.
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