Excerpt from Elizabeth Winthrop’s “Counting on Grace”

This novel about a 12-year-old mill worker was inspired by a Lewis Hine photograph.

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1: School

"Grace, your turn."

The book is called The Red Badge of Courage. I like that name. I stand up to read, but as soon as I open my mouth, my feet start moving. It always happens that way. I can't help it.

"'The youth was in a little trance of astonishment. So they were at last going to fight.' Miss Lesley, why don't the youth have a name?"

"Why doesn't the youth have a name," Miss Lesley says, but I go right on. She's always trying to fix our grammar, but we don't pay much mind.

"The writer should call him Joe or Henry or something."

In the front row, my little brother, Henry, giggles. Miss Lesley touches his head with her hand and he stops. At least she don't smack him with that ruler of hers.

"Grace, sit down when you read."

"I can't. I don't read as good. When I sit my brain stops working."

"Nonsense. Your brain works just like everybody else's. I want you to stay in one place when you read. Stop hopping around the room. Look at Arthur. He can sit still. Now you try it."


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