Riot [NOOK Book]

Overview

As the Civil War rages, another battle breaks out behind the lines.

During a long hot July in 1863, the worst race riots the United States has ever seen erupt in New York City. Earlier that year, desperate for more Union soldiers, President Abraham Lincoln instituted a draft–a draft that would allow the wealthy to escape serving in the army by paying a $300 waiver, more than a year’s income for the recent immigrant Irish. And on July 11, as ...
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Riot

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Overview

As the Civil War rages, another battle breaks out behind the lines.

During a long hot July in 1863, the worst race riots the United States has ever seen erupt in New York City. Earlier that year, desperate for more Union soldiers, President Abraham Lincoln instituted a draft–a draft that would allow the wealthy to escape serving in the army by paying a $300 waiver, more than a year’s income for the recent immigrant Irish. And on July 11, as the first drawing takes place in Lower Manhattan, the city of New York explodes in rage and fire. Stores are looted; buildings, including the Colored Foundling Home, are burned down; and black Americans are attacked, beaten, and murdered. The police cannot hold out against the rioters, and finally, battle-hardened soldiers are ordered back from the fields of Gettysburg to put down the insurrection, which they do–brutally.

Fifteen-year-old Claire, the beloved daughter of a black father and Irish mother, finds herself torn between the two warring sides. Faced with the breakdown of the city–the home–she has loved, Claire must discover the strength and resilience to address the new world in which she finds herself, and to begin the hard journey of remaking herself and her identity.

Addressing such issues as race, bigotry, and class head-on, Walter Dean Myers has written another stirring and exciting novel that will shake up assumptions, and lift the spirit.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Written in screenplay format like his Printz Award–winning Monster, Myers's historical novel is set in 1863 New York City during the Civil War draft riots, which began as a protest against conscription and resulted in a clash between the city's Irish and African-American populations. The streets are no longer safe for 15-year-old Claire, whose parents (her father is black, her mother Irish) run the Peacock Inn restaurant/tavern. “I don't see why you have to be a black person or a white person,” Claire says, after being cautioned to stay inside. “Why can't you just be a person?” But when the Colored Orphan Asylum is looted and burned, Claire feels an obligation to help. Myers writes poignant dialogue, laying bare the prejudices of the period, while exploring Claire's emotional transition out of childhood. Stage directions (“CLOSE-UP of MAEVE. Her face is a picture of incredible anger as she screams at the POLICE”) pull readers into both the setting and characters, though the transitions between scenes are occasionally jarring. Readers should find this story moving—a direct result of Myers's empathetic portrayal of those on both sides. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)
VOYA - Alissa Lauzon
To the Irish immigrants in New York City, the Emancipation Proclamation is a nightmare because they fear that the freed black slaves in the South will move north and become labor competition. The government adds fuel to the fire in 1863 by instituting a draft from which blacks, who are not considered citizens, are exempt. Tensions explode in New York City in July as the enraged Irish immigrants begin taking their frustrations out in an outburst of violence that cripples the city for days. Myers uses a screenplay format with a huge cast of twenty-eight characters, including the Irish rioters, blacks, Union soldiers trying to quell the riots, and poet Walt Whitman, who makes a brief appearance, to portray this lesser-known historical event. Unfortunately such a large number of characters can be difficult to keep straight. The format does not do justice to the story Myers is attempting to convey, particularly the internal struggle of Claire, the daughter of a black father and Irish mother. Readers are unable to gain much insight into the thoughts and feelings of the characters, which makes it difficult to connect with or understand their actions in a meaningful fashion. The story is a quick read that keeps tension high and is perfect for reluctant readers needing to read a historical fiction novel. Although beautifully written, it is missing something, leaving the story feeling incomplete, as if it had too many pieces to be effectively told via screenplay. Reviewer: Alissa Lauzon
VOYA - Mary Boutet
Walter Dean Myers knows how to write a great story. Riot is beautifully written, it has an exciting plot, and a powerful message. Although there were two sides to the war, Myers's characters were real people with reasons on both sides behind the choices they made. It was difficult to decide which side was right, which people were doing the right thing. When I finished reading, I felt like I should love it, but I didn't. Riot is missing something that Myers's other novel Monster delivers. The format of Monster makes that story all the more exciting, but here format detaches me from Claire, her family, and friends. The novel leaves me feeling unsatisfied. It is as if the issue is too big for the space it was given. Reviewer: Mary Boutet, Teen Reviewer
Children's Literature - Myrna Dee Marler
The New York Draft Riots that took place in the 1860s as the Irish resisted being drafted to fight in the Civil War and blamed African-Americans for stealing their jobs are a shameful blot on the nation's history. However, Walter Dean Myers, the prolific chronicler of black experience, mines this fertile field with some sympathy for the Irish. Written in the form of a screenplay and fictionalized, Myers examines how those several days of civil disturbance harmed both the Irish and African-Americans while the rich just got richer. Interesting characters populate the screenplay, one a girl who is black but looks white, finds herself searching for identity in a world gone topsy-turvy. She is pulled in several directions and after order is restored, realizes that she will never be able to simply look beyond skin color again. Well written and definitely an interesting look into the New York City of the 1860s with all its various and colorful occupants. Reviewer: Myrna Dee Marler
School Library Journal
Gr 6–8—Walter Dean Myers brings an obscure piece of history to light in this novel (Egmontusa, 2009). The year is 1863 and the United States is torn apart by the Civil War. The battle at Gettysburg has left citizens horrified, and the survival of the nation is still in doubt. New York City's large immigrant population—mostly Irish—believe that, with the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves, their jobs will be taken over by blacks making their way North. When Abraham Lincoln institutes the first draft, allowing the wealthy to pay $300 to escape service, this is the excuse that the city needs to erupt in violence. The story, told from multiple viewpoints in this full-cast production, centers upon Claire, a 15-year-old half Irish, half black girl who is baffled by the hatred that surrounds her. For several days in July, looting, destruction, and retaliation against blacks occur until Federal troops are called in to bring the insurrection to a bloody close. Myers formatted the book as a screenplay similar to his award-winning story Monster (Armistad, 1999; Listening Library, 2007). Listeners may be baffled by the stage directions (i.e., camera pans, cut to, etc.) which distract from the tale. This compelling story of the New York draft riots is more satisfying in print format.—Tricia Melgaard, Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OK
Kirkus Reviews
In a screenplay format similar to his groundbreaking Monster (2000), Myers tells the story of the Civil War Draft Riots in New York City. Aerial camera shots-zooming in, panning away-take viewers from present-day Manhattan through history, settling in on July 13, 1863, effectively establishing the context for the play. Fifteen-year-old Claire Johnson, daughter of an Irish mother and African-American father, could pass as white but chooses not to, but her identity crisis mirrors the upheaval the city faces as Irish mobs-angry at the federal government's Civil War draft, blacks they see as taking their jobs and wealthy "swells" who can buy their way out of the war-attack blacks in the streets, loot stores and provoke soldiers into firing into crowds. The large cast of characters gives voice to the various players in the historical event, including Walt Whitman, whose words add philosophical depth to the story. Another innovative work by an author constantly stretching the boundaries of what fiction can be, and a natural for readers' theater in the classroom. (Historical fiction. 11 & up)
Nate Phillips
The announcement of a military draft in July 1863 did not go over well among poor Irish immigrants in New York City. They believed if the Union won the Civil War, freed blacks from the South would rush to compete for jobs. These Irish immigrants were also angry about a provision of the draft that allowed draftees with means to get out of joining the army. The Irish rioted, attacking blacks, rich "swells," and supporters of the war. The New York Draft Riots lasted from July 13—July 16, 1863. Myers portrays the events of that week in July 1863 through a fictional screenplay focusing on a biracial 15-year-old girl, Claire, her friends, and her family. In connecting to this unfamiliar story, I suggest beginning at the end of the book and reading the timeline of events leading to the riots, along with the author's note, historical photographs, map, and illustrations. Reviewer: Nate Phillips
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606841969
  • Publisher: EgmontUSA
  • Publication date: 6/1/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 213,451
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: NPL (what's this?)
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

Walter Dean Myers is one of the best known writers of children's literature working today.  His work has received numerous awards, including two Newbery Honors, five Coretta Scott King Awards, the Michael L. Printz Award, the Margaret A. Edwards Award, two Lee Bennett Hopkins Awards, the ALAN Award, and many others, including the 2008 Arbuthnot Award from the ALA. This year, he is the first time winner of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, which will be presented at ALA in Washington. Besides writing, Walter loves collecting photographs and ephemera dealing with black history, and owns several pieces from this period, including an actual $300 waiver of the Civil War draft. 

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 21 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 19 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2013

    Red and co

    Followed.

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    Posted June 23, 2013

    Spiritheart

    Do well in starclan longclaw... &#9786 &#9787

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2013

    Birdsong

    A pretty, delicate looking white shecat pads into the clearing. Her eyes are a beautiful, stunning deep blue that toms could get lost in. She is petite and skinny and graceful. "Hi guys I..." The beautiful shecat stops aruptly as she looks around at the evil, menacing caats. " Woah... This isn't Sunclan... Wh-where am i?" The shecat, name Birdsong, asked in a trembling voice. Her blue eyes are round with fright.

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    Posted June 23, 2013

    Razorpaw

    Rests her head on her paws.

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    Nightstar of Grassclan

    Give me Grassclan kits back!

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    Posted June 15, 2013

    Razorkit and crimpsonkit

    *pad in* "um like our mother just got killed by like a hunter and we need a place to like stay. Can we like crash here?" he asks~razorkit "um yeah like what he said"~crimpsonkit

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    Posted June 15, 2013

    Starkit to fox/m

    I have no mother!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 15, 2013

    Crowkit

    "Hia Red!" He purred.

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    Posted June 15, 2013

    The boulder explodes! *BOOM!*

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    Pinprick

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    Posted June 19, 2013

    Ravenkit

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    Posted June 14, 2013

    Hellfire

    Slept in the warriors' den. (Going to bed, night everyone, see you tomorrow)

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    Posted June 14, 2013

    An apprentice

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    Posted June 15, 2013

    Slash

    ((i barely have wi-fi so you gotta wait)) He laid on high rock.

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  • Posted February 14, 2011

    tr

    fv

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  • Posted December 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Grandma Bev for TeensReadToo.com

    RIOT by Walter Dean Myers tells the story of the beginning of the Civil War, and the 1863 insurgency in New York City.

    President Lincoln had started a draft to gain more soldiers for the Union Army, but there was a clause in the law that allowed the wealthy to pay a three-hundred dollar fee and hire someone else to go to war in their place. In New York City, tempers exploded into a vicious race riot.

    Claire is the daughter of a mixed family. Her mother is Irish and her father is black. She has been secure in her identity, but now everything is different. Black Americans are being murdered and beaten, and even a foundling home is looted and burned as the uprising turns into one of the worst race riots in American history.

    The streets and Claire's neighborhood are no longer safe. And then the soldiers that are called back from Gettysburg to settle the dispute are equally brutal.

    Claire is considered all black by people she considered friends and they are turning against her for that reason. She begins to question her identity. Great characters and a fast-moving plot kept me glued to the pages.

    Myers has written this story in the form of a screenplay in an untraditional book, with an unblinking look at racial relations during that time period. It gave an immediacy to the action that most novel forms would not have been able to achieve. It is a very entertaining story, and I painlessly learned a lesson in American history.

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    Posted November 8, 2011

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