Welcome...from my desk to yours
I'm delighted to report that my tenth book (and first written for middle grade readers) was chosen as an American Library Association Notable Book. Streetcar to Justice: How Elizabeth Jennings Won the Right to Ride in New York has been well-received, with starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus.
Streetcar to Justice is the first biography of Elizabeth Jennings, a civil rights hero from the 19th century who was all-but-forgotten over time. Miss Jennings was a black schoolteacher who refused to leave a segregated streetcar in Manhattan in 1854, setting into motion a historic court case in New York City and the first major step in ending segregation in transportation in New York.
I had been researching Elizabeth Jennings's story for more than twenty years as a hobby of sorts. (Yes, digging through long-defunct newspapers, for a writer, is a hobby!) In 2016, I was convinced by a close writer-friend that I had a responsibility to turn an attic filled with boxes of research into a book. I realized that my friend was right. No one had written a book about Miss Jennings, and 164 years had passed since the incident on the streetcar. I decided to write the book for all ages beginning at age 8, when most American children start to learn about Rosa Parks (an obvious parallel) and the modern Civil Rights Movement. At the same time, the book is a mentor text and has turned out to be quite popular among adults. The book was published by HarperCollins/Greenwillow in New York on Jan. 2, 2018. I'm thrilled that the story of Elizabeth Jennings is out in the world, at last! The book succeeded in bringing media attention to her story and helped build momentum for her selection, in March 2019, by the City of New York as one of four new statues of women. What she needed was a book, carefully researched, to give her the visibility and respect she deserves. I believe the Delany Sisters, the subject of my first book, the 1993 bestselling oral history, Having Our Say, would be pleased that I tackled this topic.
Here is a sample of the reviews:
The New York Times Sunday Book Review: "Wrapped up in Hearth's detailing of Jennings's courage is a sobering recognition that the shame of our nation's history was widespread...Hearth reminds us that Jennings was not only blocked from riding in a streetcar, she also faced institutionalized obstacles."
School Library Journal: "A superb mentor text. Hearth brings the story of Elizabeth Jennings to vivid life in an eminently readable book."
Publisher's Weekly (starred review): "A book that belongs in any civil rights library collection."
Kirkus (starred review): "Completely fascinating and unique."
Booklist:“[A] gem of a story.”
The Buffalo News: "A fascinating narrative."
The Asbury Park (N.J.) Press/USA Today Network: "The book's extensive bibliography and footnotes are nearly as fascinating as the text itself, introducing the reader to new places and subjects to explore."
Tampa Bay Times: "Elizabeth Jennings has been largely forgotten, but Amy Hill Hearth's book for young readers, Streetcar to Justice, brings the story back....Hearth's book expertly gives young readers wider context for Jennings' story."