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Reviewed by Sheena Monnin for Readers' Favorite
The Rose of Washington Square by Pat Wahler tells the fascinating true story of illustrator and inventor, Rose O’Neill. Rose lived at the turn of the century during a time when women had very few rights in comparison to their husbands, fathers, and brothers. But Rose was determined to succeed, first as an illustrator for magazines and later as the inventor of the famous Kewpie doll. Her life was full of love, ambition, loss, and failure. Her family’s unending support of her life decisions gave her the sturdy foundation she needed to reach success in her career. She did not win every early contract she sought, but through her setbacks, she persevered. Her marriages also did not “succeed” in the traditional sense, but she chose to remain strong and never lose sight of her own life goals. The story takes the reader through each pivotal moment in Rose O’Neill’s life.
The Rose of Washington Square by Pat Wahler is beautifully written and brings the main character to life on its pages. The reader will rejoice at Rose’s triumphs and cry at her losses. The author paints vivid pictures through her words of not only Rose’s journey but also those who walked through life with her for varying lengths of time: her parents, her siblings, her husbands, and her dear friends. Each experience Rose has is written with compassion and excitement, allowing the reader to know Rose’s feelings and thoughts. Her accomplishments are impressive and her resolve to succeed after each setback is inspiring. I love the author’s attention to small nuances in how Rose handles incredibly important points of decision in her life, and how she lives with each decision after it is made. From start to finish, this story honors the talent, devotion to family, and success that was such a huge part of Rose O’Neill’s life.