Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Charity Girl by Michael Lowenthal
I actually read this book for an adult book club that I belong to. I chose to inculde it on this blog and on our free reading shelf because it seemed like a story that some of you budding historians and/or feminists might find interesting.
Charity Girl is the story of a seventeen year-girl named Freida Mintz. It takes place during WWI in Boston. Freida is Jewish and has recently run away from home because her mother basically sold her off to an older man in marriage. Freida thinks the older man is gross and decides that she'd be better of scraping a living together. She is a teenage girl, though, and loves to dance. When she meets a young soldier who sweeps her into a fun-filled adventurous evening, she doesn't think twice about sleeping with him. A fe days later, an older woman comes to Freida's job and tells her that she's been named as carrying an STD (sexually transmitted disease).
Freida ignores the woman, but soon after she starts to experience pain and all of the other signs of an STD. She loses her job and is eventually arrested for spreading a disease to an officer. She is locked up in a home with other girls who're infected with STD's. This story sounds unreal, but this actually happened to thousands of girls during WWI. The men who slept with the women were free to continue with their lives, but the women were imprisoned without legal charges, without lawyers, and without the ability to defend themselves in any way.
This is an interesting read for anyone who enjoys historical fiction, especially from a young woman's point of view. It's not super long and it moves along pretty quickly. If you'd like to check it out, it's at the back of the room on the free reading shelf.