A historical novel about both the mill strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts and how the people of Barre, Vermont provided help for children of the strike, Bread and Roses, Too, written by Katherine Paterson, follows Rosa and Jake and their vastly different experiences. While the cover shows a female dress, roses and bread, the story is decidedly Jake’s, especially near the end, as he is the one who undergoes the biggest transformation.
Rosa, an Italian girl, is the most school-minded in her family, but when the mill strikes become more violent, her mother decides it’s safest to send her to Barre where good Italian families will raise her until it is safe to return. Rosa goes from sharing a bed with two others to her own room and an abundance of food.
American-born Jake, a child labourer with a drunken father, spends most of his time on the streets and sees the train to Barre as a means of escape. What happens in Barre changes the course of his life.