Lyddie (A Puffin Novel)

by Katherine Paterson

Paperback, 1995



Local notes

PB Pat


Puffin Books (1995), Edition: 1st Trade Pbk. Ed, 208 pages


Impoverished Vermont farm girl Lyddie Worthen is determined to gain her independence by becoming a factory worker in Lowell, Massachusetts, in the 1840s.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

208 p.; 5.1 inches





User reviews

LibraryThing member eussery
Lyddie is the story of a poor 13 year old Vermont farm girl written by Katherine Paterson. The narrative begins in 1843 with a bear attack of the family cabin referenced through out the book. Lyddie’s mother sees this attack as a sign that the end is here and leaves taking her two youngest daughters to her sister’s farm. Due to dept acquired after her fathers abandonment Lyddie and her younger brother Charlie are told in a letter sent from their mother they must go to work. Lyddie goes to a Tavern where she works in the kitchen and her brother a mill 10 miles away. Lyddie feels alone and, she thinks, "I ain't free anymore. . . once I enter I'm a servant girl -- no better than a black slave" (p. 18). Lyddie’s determination to reunite her family and get back to their farm is what motivates her to be the best worker she can be, but she makes the mistake of being gone to long while the overseer is gone and is fired. She heads to Massachusetts to become a factory girl where she can make a lot more money. Lyddie earned every penny of her salary; the life risking conditions in the factory including 13 hr work days, six days and week, and ear piercing machines. Her priorities change throughout the novel she is able to place moral principles over material gain. She is eventually let go from the factory because she defends a friend from being sexually assaulted by the boss, but she leaves having developed a social conscience she did not have before. Lyddie is determined to find herself as she travels to a college in Ohio that accepts women. I found this book to be an interesting account of the working class, especially factory workers at the time. I’m not sure of the likability for boys but Lyddie was an independent role model for young women. Themes of acting against injustice and turning adversity to her advantage are encouraging to young readers. Educators could use this book as a research unit on labor, child labor in specific, or on the role of mills in the economy of New England. Grade 6 and up… (more)
LibraryThing member RoseMarion
Lydia (Lyddie) Worthen and her family live on a small farm sans their father in 1843 Vermont. Their mother is mentally unstable and as such, Lyddie and Charlie, the two oldest children, take care of the farming and the cooking. Eventually, their mother leaves the farm with the two youngest children and sends Lyddie and Charlie to work in a tavern and mill to pay off family debts. The pay is very poor at Cutler’s Tavern, and soon, Lyddie starts a new life as a higher paid “factory girl” in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Although Lyddie earns more money in her new position, life in Lowell is not an easy one for any of the girls that work in the mill factories. For instance, they work very long shifts in bad conditions without long breaks in between. While working in the mills, Lyddie learns lessons about life. For example, she learns that working hard brings a great sense of self-accomplishment. Likewise, she also learns that people must stand up for their rights whether it is young mill workers demanding ten hour days with better working conditions or young women standing up to sexual harassment. Most importantly, Lyddie learns to trust herself and believe in her strengths.

Lyddie by Katherine Paterson is an uplifting novel that gives power to young women and their voices. It is also a great historical account of how mill life was in 1840s America. Having been listed on many "Best" lists including the ALA Best Book for Young Adults, Lyddie by Katherine Paterson is an exceptional piece of literature.
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LibraryThing member kdebros
Historical fiction book about a girl in Vermont whose parents disappear. She goes to Lowell, MA to get a job at a mill and experiences what many child laborers experienced at that time.
LibraryThing member ewang109
Paterson, K. (1991). Lyddie. New York, NY: Dutton Children’s Books.

Lydia (Lyddie) Worthen’s father left her family in debt. Although they own a small farm in Vermont, her family is unable to pay for it. Lyddie’s mother is also mentally unstable. Consequently, Lyddie, a twelve-year-old girl, must take care of her younger brother and sisters. Eventually, Lyddie is sent to work in a tavern and her brother Charlie must work at a mill to pay off the family debt. Even though Lyddie is extremely diligent, she makes very little money working at the tavern. However, it is at the tavern that she meets a woman who tells her about Lowell, Massachusetts. This woman explains to Lyddie that by working in a mill, she could easily earn two dollars a week. Lyddie does not completely believe this woman, but she still thinks about factory life.

When Mistress Cutler finds that Lyddie left to visit her brother while she was gone on vacation, Mistress Cutler fires her. At that point, Lyddie is free. She decides to go to Lowell, Massachusetts to work for the Concord Corporation. Lyddie discovers that the Concord Corporation is not what she expects. The factory has terrible working conditions. In fact, she can hardly breathe inside because it is hot and dusty. The noise is also so loud that it makes her head feel “like a log being split to splinters” (p. 75). In addition, Mr. Marsden, the overseer, constantly watches her.

Ironically, even though Lyddie is a free woman, working at a factory is similar to being a slave. Her life is completely regimented. Nonetheless, by working more than 10-hour days, Lyddie starts to make good money. All seems well until several tragic events occur.

Lyddie is a powerful novel about determination. She does her best to make money, take care of her brother and sisters, and maintain dignity. Paterson does an excellent job developing Lyddie’s character. Lyddie transforms from a slightly naïve girl to a wise woman. Yet her character is still believable because she is imperfect. When Lyddie makes money at the factory, she struggles to give it to her mother and younger sister. At one point, she even becomes somewhat greedy and a workaholic.

Paterson provides readers with a realistic portrayal of factory life. For the most part, I enjoyed the book. I did not like the ending though because it seemed somewhat unbelievable. Nevertheless, I still recommend this book for a high school library. Appropriate for grades six through nine.
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LibraryThing member t1bclasslibrary
Lyddie's family's farm has been in trouble for years, and the problems have only gotten worse since her father left, but she struggles to keep it together. Her mother, however, has given up, and she realizes that her only hope for making money to pay off the farm's debt is to get a job working in the Lowell mills. She is a hard worker and has no trouble making a lot of money, but she begins to discover that the work hurts other girls in the mills. When she finally loses the farm, she has to come up with a new plan for her life, but the mills have exposed her to new people and experiences. It is the life around the mill that teaches her how to become herself.… (more)
LibraryThing member KarenNunez
Lyddie is a story about a young 10-year-old girl who tries to keep her family together after her father leaves and does not return. Her mother has her and her younger brother, Charlie, hired out as servants to help pay for the families debts. Lyddie has strong family values and believes if she works hard enough, she can bring her family back together. This story is about one young girl’s strength, determination, and personal growth. I would recommend this book to be read when discussing the history. This book is another good book to read and have discussions on, especially focusing on how we face obstacles in life. Do we give us or try to persevere as Lyddie did.… (more)
LibraryThing member nolak
Lyddie is full of determination. Her parents die, and when she hears of mill jobs in Lowell, Massachusetts, she heads there with the goal to earn money to reunite her family. She learns to read, but she also learns the horrors that accompany the dawn to dusk work in dust and lint filled factories. When a friend becomes ill, she must decide to speak up and risk her job and her dreams or stay quiet. This book reminds me of my great-grandmother who was a weaver on a loom and had the same kind of determination. It helped me understand her better. I loved this book and give it to everyone I can.… (more)
LibraryThing member BriannaCrawford
This book is about a young girl named Lyddie that is growing up in Massachusetts in the 19th century. There are two things that are important to Lyddie. One being loyalty to her family, and the other wanting her independence. Her family eventually goes into debt causing Lyddie to go work at this little tavern to help support the family. Lyddie takes this opportunity to go to the mill towns to work in a factory. Being a factory girl allows Lyddie to make a salary and get her independence.

I liked this book a lot. I thought that it was very interesting and I was easily pulled into the story. I liked how it showed that no matter how big your dream is, if you want it you can get it. I think that is a really good thing for people to be bale to see, because sometimes our dreams seem so far away and impossible to achieve.

In the classroom this book could be used while teaching historical fiction. It could be used in talking about the importance of family and your loyalty to them. It could also be used to encourage children to follow their dreams no matter how hard it may be to achieve them.
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LibraryThing member evandy1
i thought this book was okay.The story's about a young 10-year-old girl who tries to keep her family together after her father leaves and does not return. Her mother has her and her younger brother, Charlie, hired out as servants to help pay off their family's debts. Lyddie has strong family values and believes if she perseveres, she can bring her family back together. This story is about one young girl’s strength, determination, and personal growth. I liked the moral of the story which is to try your hardest and persevere and also to love your family. I just couldn't relate to many of the problems that Lyddie faced which made it harder to connect to the story. However, the book used good descriptive language that helped me to visualize what was happening in the story.… (more)
LibraryThing member kkadal1
I did not enjoy, "Lyddie", the central message of which was that one must always persevere through difficult times. While I felt the character of Lyddie was believable and well-developed, I was not able to relate to her struggles involving repaying her family's debts and child labor. My inability to relate to Lyddie made this book difficult for me to read. Additionally, I did not like the convoluted language used in the story (e.g., "Wrld has not c*m to an end yit"). While I understand that the author likely used this language in order to give context to the time period in which the story took place, it made it difficult for me to decipher what the characters were trying to convey. One aspect of the story that I did like was its message of strength, perseverance, and persisting through difficult times. Although I did not feel that I could relate to the struggles of Lyddie, I did feel as though I could relate to the story's overarching message.… (more)
LibraryThing member ehopki7
This was a very interesting book to read. I have never been a huge fan of historical fiction, but I loved the character of Lyddie. Although I could not truly relate to her experiences personally, she was described and developed in a believable way that made the reader really root for her and want the best for her in the end. The language that the author used helped to create the picture of what the time period was like. The main message of this book was truly perseverance; Lyddie was faced with so many obstacles, hardships and setbacks but she stayed strong and did what she had to do to survive.… (more)
LibraryThing member engpunk77
I LOATHED the first quarter of it, thought the rest of it was "okay" and then LOVED the ending, so I think this would calculate into a 2.5-star book. It's required reading for my 7th graders, and I am trying my best to pretend it's interesting or even digestible, but it's a struggle for them. It's just a difficult read for the modern 7th grader, especially for 7th grade boys who have to endure paragraphs about her blossoming and budding body. I see why the Common Core modules chose the book, as it'd be a reasonable companion to a unit on industrialization and labor issues in the Social Studies classroom. Unfortunately, all of those issues are covered in....8th grade. :(
I wouldn't argue with anyone who gives this 5 stars, as it was well-written, but I just don't think it's a good fit for my kids. The ending rocked.
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LibraryThing member wealhtheowwylfing
Seeking a way out of the desperate poverty her family lives in, young Lyddie gets a job at one of the newly opened mills. A really fantastic way to get children to understand labor laws, unions, and the industrial revolution.
LibraryThing member EmilieM
I read this WAAAAY a long time ago... Like, 4th grade. I liked it then... Haven't read it SINCE then, so I dunno if it's as good as I remember.
LibraryThing member Jenson_AKA_DL
This was my son's selected summer reading book for his break between 6th and 7th grades. After reading the story he insisted I read it as well.

A well told story of a young girl from Vermont who strives to find income to keep her family farm. My only complaint would be the ambiguousness of Lyddie's ultimate conclusion. I would have loved an epilogue tying up the loose ends and questions of what happened to her.… (more)






(169 ratings; 3.8)
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