Crash: The Great Depression and the Fall and Rise of America
by Marc Favreau
Little, Brown and Company, 2018
The reviewer received an advanced copy of the book from the publisher.
In his debut book for children and teens, Marc Favreau takes readers on a somber journey through the Great Depression. Crash is captivating from the first line as Favreau describes the free wheeling lifestyle of the roaring twenties that abruptly ended on Black Monday when the stock market plunged on Oct. 29, 1929.
"America did not see it coming."
The narrative includes first hand accounts of what it was like to live during the Great Depression. Diary entires, letters, posters, telegrams and black & white photographs (including several by Dorothea Lange) help paint a picture of a desperate time when people lost their jobs, their homes and could not feed their families.
One of the books many strengths is providing information about the government, society and the economy in the 1920s and 1930s to readers who may have limited background knowledge while also keeping the story new and interesting for readers who may have knowledge of the topic. The text covers an array of events and subjects including the banking industry, rise of labor unions, FDR's presidency and the New Deal, women's rights, the Dust Bowl, voting rights, the work of the NAACP, the Great Migration, the government's anti-immigration policies, and World War II.
Each chapter focuses on a specific topic or time period and describes how everyday Americans were impacted by the stock market crash and how the government and businesses tried to pull the country out of despair. In addition to well-know figures such as Herbert Hoover, FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt, the book introduces readers to lesser-known yet influential people such as Francis Perkins (Secretary of Labor and first woman in the cabinet) and Walter White (president of the NAACP and undercover investigator).
Back matter is extensive and includes a bibliography, several pages of source notes, a timeline, and glossary. The roller coaster ride of historical events, parallels to modern day America and Favreau's engaging writing style make this an interesting book to read aloud or to read as a companion to a fiction book about the Great Depression (Out of the Dust, Esperanza Rising, or Bud, Not Buddy). Crash is one of the best long-form nonfiction books I've read this year and is a recommended purchase for public libraries and middle school and high school libraries and classrooms.