Just a couple of young people, falling in love, during the Great Depression in the United States. What could go wrong with that? Plenty, if your names are Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.
During the Great Depression, it was very hard to find work, and for people that were already struggling or poor, this made life very difficult for them. Clyde was growing up in a family that had always had trouble getting money, and unfortunately for him, he quickly turned to robbery as a way to get the things that he wanted. Prison and jails were no picnic at that time, and Clyde, at an early age, found himself locked up in prison serving time. It was a very hard few years for Clyde, and it was in prison that he committed his first murder – although he wasn’t tried for it, probably because it was an inmate and another inmate had helped Clyde in the fight. While Clyde was already having issues with the law, it is certain his horrible experiences with the guards and the abuse he suffered in prison contributed to his absolute refusal to ever be caught and sent back to that place once he was freed.
Bonnie was a vivacious young woman who had her pick of the guys. In fact, she married quite young, just before her 16th birthday, but it was a romance that was troubled from the very beginning. Her husband Roy, later left her for longer and longer periods of time and was eventually arrested for burglary and sent to prison. When he did return some time later, Bonnie wouldn’t take him back. It was after the stock market crash of 1929 and when most people were losing their jobs that Bonnie met Clyde at her brother’s house. The two were instantly attracted to each other.
Bonnie and Clyde: the Making of a Legend by Karen Blumenthal chronicles in detail the lives of these two doomed young people as they began to spiral more and more out of control. The book does a lot to help separate the myth from reality when it comes to one of the most notorious criminal pairings in American history.
Recommended for grades 8 and up.