City of Grit and Gold
Genres: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction
Publication Year: 2017
Length: 164 p.
ASIN: 0996755853
ISBN: 9780996755856

The streets of Chicago in 1886 are full of turmoil. Striking workers clash with police…illness and injury lurk around every corner…and twelve-year-old Addie must find her way through it all. Torn between her gruff Papa—who owns a hat shop and thinks the workers should be content with their American lives—and her beloved Uncle Chaim—who is active in the protests for the eight-hour day—Addie struggles to understand her topsy-turvy world, while also keeping her family intact. Set in a Jewish neighborhood of Chicago during the days surrounding the Haymarket Affair, this novel vividly portrays one immigrant family’s experience, while also eloquently depicting the timeless conflict between the haves and the have-nots.

About the Book


A companion guide for this book (which includes discussion questions, read-alikes,
links to images, and resources for further exploration) can be found by
clicking here.


Trade Paperback • ISBN 978-0-9967558-5-6 • $16.99

Ebook • ISBN 978-0-9967558-6-3 • $6.99

JUVENILE FICTION /Historical/United States/19th Century

appropriate for ages 9-12 and above

5.5 x 8.5 • 164 pages

Available through Amazon, Ingram, Baker & Taylor, OverDrive, etc.

• to download printer-friendly information about this book click here


Praise for City of Grit and Gold:

“Powell brings this historical event to life with admirable attention to detail. A well-rounded collection of characters offer opposing perspectives of the events and life in Chicago at that time. Young readers will grow along with Addie as she learns about the hardships of poverty and the complexity of politics…A timely and potent portrait of an important moment in U.S. history. Recommended for fans of ‘Dear America.’” —School Library Journal

“The history of the American Labor Movement isn’t often explored in middle-grade literature, and this will be a valuable addition to collections…Exploring many topical issues—immigration, civil disobedience, the right to free speech and assembly, and police brutality—this novel is timely. Kudos to the small Chicago press, Allium, for bringing it out; it certainly deserves a place in most libraries.” —Booklist

City of Grit and Gold is an ideal pick for teachers and librarians who may want to use the work to supplement lessons on American history or have meaningful discussions about rights, immigration, and protesting.”  —Foreword Reviews

“A worthy introduction to an important piece of history.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Sensitive and beautifully told, City of Grit and Gold captures the 19th-century immigrant experience with its hopes and sorrows. Young readers will find much to compare with today’s refugee crisis as they identify with its resourceful and brave heroine.” —Historical Novels Review

“This tale was wonderfully descriptive, and it effortlessly portrays the hardships of an immigrant family in Chicago during the 1800s…The description of a family and their unique love for one another is beautiful. Despite being in an entirely different time period, the struggles and hardships of Addie’s family still apply today.” —LitPick

“A small book, but it carries an impactful message about an important time in American history. I highly recommend it for readers aged 9 to 12 and their parents.” —Mother Daughter Book Club blog

“Provides wonderful insights into differing perspectives among the immigrants during a time when workers’ rights were just beginning to be established…a provocative exploration of the thoughts, beliefs, and struggles that plague the have and the have-nots, all seen through the eyes of a child. It will leave you examining your own beliefs, which is always a good thing!” —Middle Grade Minded blog

“A beautifully written historical novel…a fine read for young readers who want to combine a compelling story as well as interesting historical details…the descriptions are so evocative and vivid…an engrossing read…I recommend City of Grit and Gold highly for school libraries, for homeschooling families, and for anyone who has an interest in this fascinating period in American history.” —A View from the Birdhouse blog

“Powell’s writing style brings the characters’ personalities and thought processes to the forefront, providing ample opportunities for readers to connect with the past while feeling that the issues Addie and her family are facing could also be relevant currently…a worthwhile read that sheds light on how purpose and dedication to a cause, whether for one’s own family or others, can tear people apart yet at the same time bring them together.” —YABooksCentral

“This book captures many aspects of the time period, from the illnesses and injuries that we think nothing of now but were life-threatening then to the struggles of the poor to scrape by in a world run by the rich…Middle grade readers who are interested in historical fiction will enjoy City of Grit and Gold. The characters and the setting are both wonderful.” —Newbery and Beyond blog

“City of Grit and Gold is really a lovely book. The eight-hour-day movement and Haymarket events make a great backdrop for the growing pains of a twelve-year-old girl. The Haymarket details are engaging, atmospheric, and very accurate.  Conflicting views are clearly laid out, but the universal need for social justice is beautifully presented. The reader is taken to the sights and smells of 19th-century Chicago, but the writing has a quality that will lead young readers to see that many of the same issues exist in the 21st century world.” —Bleue Benton, Oak Park Public Library


About the Author
Maud Macrory Powell

Maud Macrory Powell comes from a family of writers. She was born and raised in Washington, DC. She studied comparative religion in college and environmental studies in graduate school. She now lives in rural Oregon with her family, where they run an organic farm and she teaches at Oregon State University. Her essay “The Fruits of My Labor” was published in the anthology Greenhorns: The Next Generation of American Farmers. This is her debut novel.

Look Inside
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."