By 1963, the year Crazy opens, “crazy” women were no longer committed to mental asylums and forgotten, but the stigma remained. (Until terms such as “mental illness” and “bipolar” emerged in the late sixties, “crazy” included all forms of mental health problems.) In her free-verse novel, Linda Phillips explores that stigma with insight, candor, and wit through teenager Laura Wahlberg who lives with her parents in a small house outside of Crawford Hills, Oregon, a lumber mill town.
Despite Rosie the Riveter’s best efforts during World War II to laud women replacing men in industrial jobs, their peers in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, received no tribute. Not because Rosie errored, but because the Clinton Engineer Works’ (CEW) purpose was so confidential that the employees knew only that they were “processing tubealloy for the gadget.” (They were enriching uranium for an atomic bomb.) Denise Kiernan’s compelling and comprehensive book not only recognizes the women, but sheds new light on little-known aspects of World War II.
Cynthia Drew published City of Slaughter, her first novel, in 2013 (WNC Woman review in April). Her compelling story is set in Manhattan’s garment industry in the early 1900s. Carsie Akselrod, the protagonist, guides readers from a rural Russian shtetl to dynamic New York City. In an interview at the New York Book Festival, Drew said, “Everything we see on TV and in the movies romanticizes the period … but New York City in 1900 was anything but romantic; it was smelly and dirty and crowded … people fought to stay alive.”
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