Bowery girl by Kim Taylor
Annabelle Lee, a young woman in the Bowery of New York City in 1883, has finished serving her jail sentence for attempted robbery of a police detective after he hired her as a prostitute. Mollie Flynn, her best and only friend, excitedly waits to meet Annabelle and celebrate her release. Mollie makes her living as a pickpocket, discovers Annabelle in pregnant when they go to the public bath, and worries how they will achieve their dream of living an honest life and move to Brooklyn. They have an idealized image of Brooklyn as a place with trees where they can rent a room with a window. Annabelle looks forward to reuniting with Tommy McCormack, her boyfriend and father of her child, who is the leader of the Growlers, a tough Irish gang. She hopes he will marry her. Mollie and Annabelle learn a settlement house has opened in the building where the baths are, teaching classes. Annabelle decides she wants to learn to read. After a robbery with the Growlers goes wrong and in which she is involved, Mollie joins Annabelle in classes at the settlement house. Since she knows how to read, she’s assigned to a typing class to learn an honest trade. Even as Annabelle’s due date comes close, they hold onto their dream of Brooklyn and a better life, in the face of many challenges and obstacles.
This true to life historical fiction paints a vivid picture of life among the poor and destitute in New York City during the 1880s. Even though they use rough language and do not live totally honest lives, the characters become people about whom the reader grows to care.
Review by Ellie Goldstein Erickson