1919: The Year That Changed America by Martin W. Sandler

First of all, I thought it was a good read and an interesting topic. I knew about most of the different events mentioned (including the Great Molasses Disaster). However, it never dawned on me that all of these events happened within one year! I never considered 1919 to be a pivotal year in American history, but I’m thinking differently now.

At times, I forgot that this was a book designed for kids. As a history nerd, I relished all of the well- researched details and the emotions that these stories still induce 100 years after the events took place. I think a kid can appreciate this work, provided that you can persuade him or her to pick up a…gasp…historical nonfiction book, and read it…for fun (oh, the horror!). I’m joking, of course. Having been employed at a library for many years, I’ve seen many kids who willingly gobble up nonfiction and ask for more.

Two complaints about the book, however. First, at times, I felt that the author got a little preachy about certain political issues. It forced a certain amount of eye-rolling on my part, (which, believe it or not, makes it difficult to read). Secondly, I found the placement of the sidebar stories distracting. I would be reading the main part of a chapter, and really getting into the story. Then I would turn the page and, and boom, there was another story (yes, I could have skipped over it and continued with the chapter, but I’m anal and like read things in order-my fatal flaw, apparently). Anyway, I felt that it threw off the flow of the narrative. I’m wondering if it would have been better to place the sidebar stories at the end of each chapter, but that’s just me.