by Myers, Walter Dean

In 1863, fifteen-year-old Claire, the daughter of an Irish mother and a black father, faces ugly truths and great danger when Irish immigrants, enraged by the Civil War and a federal draft, lash out against blacks and wealthy "swells" of New York City.

Walter Dean Myers is the critically acclaimed author of such celebrated novels for youth as theNew York Times Best-Selling Monster; the Newbery Honor-winning Somewhere in the Darkness andScorpions; Shooter, the basis for the 2009 film Case 219; and the Coretta Scott King Award-winningFallen Angels and Slam.

An avid student of history, Myers collects photographs and documents on African American life up to the 1950s. His collection has been featured in both his own nonfiction and in documentaries on American history. Many pieces relating to the background of the New York City Draft Riots may be found in this volume or online at When not writing or collecting, Myers spends his time cooking, playing the flute, or attending the theater.

You may visit him online at

*Starred Review* In this fast, dramatic novel told in screenplay format, Myers takes on a controversial historical conflict that is seldom written about: the New York Draft Riots of 1863, when struggling Irish immigrants protested being called up by Lincoln to "die for the darkies" in the Civil War. The story focuses on 15-year-old Claire, the biracial daughter of a black man and a white Irishwoman. The diverse voices, from all sides-black, white, and mixed race; soldier and policeman; racist, looter, and victim-will draw readers into the fiery debates. "The swells are looking to send us off to fight for the Colored," says an angry Irishman who has nothing. "Coloreds don't have nothing either," is one reply. There are no easy resolutions, idealized characters, or stereotypes, and the conflicts are unforgettable. A policeman does not want to shoot the looters. A weary soldier "clean forgot what this war was about." Maeve, a bigoted white teen, does change in the end, but only a little. Great for reader's theater, this is sure to spark discussion about race, class, conflict, and loyalty, then and now. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

In a screenplay format similar to his groundbreaking Monster (2000), Myers tells the story of the Civil War Draft Riots in New York City. Aerial camera shots-zooming in, panning away-take viewers from present-day Manhattan through history, settling in on July 13, 1863, effectively establishing the context for the play. Fifteen-year-old Claire Johnson, daughter of an Irish mother and African-American father, could pass as white but chooses not to, but her identity crisis mirrors the upheaval the city faces as Irish mobs-angry at the federal government's Civil War draft, blacks they see as taking their jobs and wealthy "swells" who can buy their way out of the war-attack blacks in the streets, loot stores and provoke soldiers into firing into crowds. The large cast of characters gives voice to the various players in the historical event, including Walt Whitman, whose words add philosophical depth to the story. Another innovative work by an author constantly stretching the boundaries of what fiction can be, and a natural for readers' theater in the classroom. (Historical fiction. 11 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Terms of Use   ©Copyright 2022 Follett School Solutions