Drawing Outside the Lines: a Julia Morgan Novel
Susan J. Austin
Published October 18, 2022
About Drawing Outside the Lines
Meet the brilliant, fearless, and ambitious Julia Morgan. In 1883, eleven-year-old Julia visits the amazing new Brooklyn Bridge—an experience that ignites within her a small but persistent flame. Someday, she decides, she too will build an astounding structure.
Growing up in horse-and-buggy Oakland, Julia enjoys daring fence walks, climbing the tallest trees, and constantly testing her mother’s patience with her lack of interest in domestic duties and social events. At a time when “brainy” girls are the object of ridicule, Julia excels in school and consistently outsmarts her ornery brothers—but she has an even greater battle ahead. When she enrolls at university to study engineering, the male students taunt her, and the professors belittle her. Through it all, however, Julia holds on to her dream of becoming an architect. She faces each challenge head-on, firmly standing up to those who believe a woman’s place is in the home. Fortunately, the world has yet to meet anyone like the indomitable Miss Morgan.
DRAWING OUTSIDE THE LINES is an imagined childhood of pioneering architect Julia Morgan, who left behind her an extraordinary legacy of creativity, beauty, and engineering marvels.
Lately I feel like I keep running into repeated mentions of women in history that I didn’t previously know anything about. For example, a week or so before I read this book, I picked up another book about 50 women artists that also includes a bio of Julia Morgan.
I enjoyed this sweet imagining of the early life of Julia Morgan and her family. The story includes brushes with other famous people from her time as well as some of the architectural marvels that were created during her early life, like the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.
The story follows her journey through school, graduation and into college. As a woman in an engineering program at that time, she faced a lot of gender discrimination and prejudice. Her kindness and strength as she perseveres through it all can’t help but be inspiring. It was easy to celebrate Julia’s successes with her.
After the story ends, the author includes a note explaining some of the other famous people who appear as minor characters in the story as well as commenting on a few key events, such as her school burning down twice. I found myself wishing that there were also some biographical notes summarizing the rest of Julia Morgan’s life and accomplishments, especially in architecture. The book definitely made me more curious about and more appreciative of Julia Morgan as an architect, and I look forward to learning even more.
I think readers who enjoy history will love reading this story imagining Julia Morgan’s early life.
Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.
Major characters are white.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
A boy knocks Julia into the mud on purpose. Several boys in her college program say derisive things to her. A couple of male professors do, too.
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