Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: 44 Hours or Strike!

Publish February 12, 2016

Anne Dublin chronicles the 1931 Toronto dressmaker’s strike in 44 Hours or Strike! – a novel about hardship, loss, and the revolutionary spirit that shaped Canadian employment standards. Sophie’s family escaped persecution and antisemitism in Russia, hoping to find freedom, prosperity, and a new life in Canada. But the high unemployment rates following the1929 stock market crash meant that workers could not afford to protest when faced with long hours and abysmal working conditions. At the age of 14, Sophie’s older sister, Rose, begins working in a garment factory to help support her family. When their father dies unexpectedly, their mother develops a debilitating illness and so when Sophie turns 14, she too is forced to quit school and go to work. Life in the factory is hard, and the girls find solace at union meetings, where they plan a strike to push for fair wages and shorter shifts. After just one day on strike, Rose is arrested for disorderly conduct and sentenced to 30 days in jail. Sophie’s mother breaks her ankle trying to find Rose, and, unable to visit the prison, Sophie is forced to continue the strike and take care of her mother alone. Rose is finally released, but she is weakened by her ordeal, and has lost her will to fight. An entertaining and action-packed novel, 44 Hours or Strike! paints a vivid description of working class life in the 1930s. Though Dublin’s writing shows evidence of meticulous research and a personal passion for the topic, her story suffers from loose plotting and a lack of focus. Dublin moves from one contentious issue to another, and the seemingly random alternation between various narrators will confuse struggling readers. Multiple topics for discussion might make this a nice possibility for an upper elementary Social Studies unit.

44 Hours or Strike!

Anne Dublin
Second Story Press
ISBN 13: 978-1-927583-76-0

Karen Doerksen
Karen Doerksen Karen Doerksen lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta with her husband and four children. She works for the Edmonton Public Library, and holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of Alberta.  

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