Ashes of Roses

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Overview

Sixteen-year-old Margaret Rose Nolan, newly arrived from Ireland, finds work at New York City’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory shortly before the 1911 fire in which 146 employees died.

Sixteen-year-old Rose Nolan and her family are grateful to have finally reached America, the great land of opportunity. Their happiness is shattered when part of their family is forced to return to Ireland. Rose wants to succeed and stays in New York with her younger sister Maureen. The sisters ...

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Ashes of Roses

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Overview

Sixteen-year-old Margaret Rose Nolan, newly arrived from Ireland, finds work at New York City’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory shortly before the 1911 fire in which 146 employees died.

Sixteen-year-old Rose Nolan and her family are grateful to have finally reached America, the great land of opportunity. Their happiness is shattered when part of their family is forced to return to Ireland. Rose wants to succeed and stays in New York with her younger sister Maureen. The sisters struggle to survive and barely do so by working at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Then, just as Rose is forming friendships and settling in, a devastating fire forces her, Maureen, and their friends to fight for their lives. Surrounded by pain, tragedy, and ashes, Rose wonders if there’s anything left for her in this great land of America.

Sixteen-year-old Margaret Rose Nolan, newly arrived from Ireland, finds work at New York City's Triangle Shirtwaist Factory shortly before the 1911 fire in which 146 employees died.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Fast-paced, populated by distinctive characters, and anchored in Auch’s convincing sense of time and place.”—School Library Journal

“The facts are riveting. . . . A good addition to women’s history titles.”—Booklist, Boxed Review
Publishers Weekly
According to PW, "Auch combines a classic immigration tale with the events of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist factory in this spirited novel." Ages 12-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
In early 1911, 16-year-old Margaret Rose and her family emigrate from Ireland to the U.S.A. Before they ever get off of Ellis Island, however, Rose's father has to return to their native land with Joseph, the youngest son, whose eye condition prevents him from entering the country. Rose's American relatives quickly make it clear that her family is not welcome in their home, prompting Rose's mother to set sail for home as well. At the last minute, Rose and her younger sister convince their mom to let them remain in America—there is little prospect of a bright future for young women in Limerick. Eventually Rose lands a job as a seamstress at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Her friend Gussie is a strong union supporter, pushing for women's working rights and better conditions in the factories. Discovering friends who introduce her to the latest fashion and Nickelodeon moving picture shows, Rose begins to feel the truth behind the promise of American life and liberty. Then, on March 26, 1911, Rose's world comes crashing down. Students of history may be familiar with the tragic Triangle fire that claimed 146 lives that day. But never, never has the horror been so vividly depicted as through the eyes of young Rose. The final nail-gnawing, painstakingly researched, chapters are so riveting it's impossible to imagine someone putting the book down, except to catch a breath. An amazing read. 2002, Henry Holt,
— Christopher Moning
VOYA
Roses appear ubiquitously throughout this story of an Irish immigrant in New York. Seventeen-year-old Rose Nolan's dreams of an American life with her family are thwarted when her brother fails the health test on Ellis Island. After her father takes him back to Ireland, Rose decides to stay on with her younger sister when her mother also returns home. Rose initially works making paper roses, but with the help of new friend, Gussie, she gets a job at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. As Rose is finishing her shift one day, the factory is hit by fire. With doors locked or chained shut, some workers jump out through windows, but many others, including Gussie, die in the fire. Plucky Rose manages to escape, locate her sister, and keep her life going in the right direction. Based on the true story of the Triangle fire in 1911, this novel captures the difficult life of an immigrant in the early twentieth century. The scenes from Ellis Island are particularly vivid. Rose is a thoughtful character, with a seventeen-year-old's stubbornness. Her sister, Maureen, is more of a plot device, serving as Rose's foil and a source of conflict. Gussie is interesting, but sadly underdeveloped. The language—with missin' Gs on every word—takes a bit of getting used to. With a spunky heroine and the historical backdrop of the fire, this book should find an audience with girls moving beyond the Dear America series and is recommended for school and public libraries where historical fiction is popular. 2002, Henry Holt, 249p,
— Kendall Diane Brothers
KLIATT
To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, March 2002: This begins as a rather standard coming-to-America story, featuring the Atlantic crossing, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island—all new, of course, to YA readers who don't know this tale, which was the experience of millions of immigrants to America. Rose is a teenager coming from Ireland in 1911 with her mother, father, younger sisters and baby brother. The baby brother doesn't pass the physical exam at Ellis Island and abruptly, the father decides to take him back to Ireland, leaving the mother and other children to stay in New York with his brother. This doesn't work out very well, in fact disastrously, so the mother leaves Rose and the next oldest daughter behind and returns to Ireland to be reunited with her husband and baby. Rose and her 12-year-old sister Maureen are left to fend for themselves on the streets of New York City. They find beds in the garment district at the home of a Jewish man and his teenage daughter. Soon Rose gets a job with this young woman (named Gussie) at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in lower Manhattan and Maureen starts school. Gussie is a union organizer and tries to interest Rose in the struggle. Rose is more interested in meeting other girls and having fun spending her new wages. The working conditions are well described. The climax of the story, however, is based on the historical event of the Triangle fire in March 1911, a catastrophe that in a way makes us think now of the more horrific event of 9/11: corpses lined up to be identified by grieving friends and relatives, emergency crews doing their best. In fact, the author says, "This book is dedicated to the heroes of September11—both those who were lost and those who fought to save them—and to the indestructible spirit of the people of New York." Rose grows from a provincial girl to a young woman determined to fight for the rights of workers, to be a witness to the terrible working conditions that caused the deaths of so many of her co-workers at the Triangle factory. As such, this book works well as a complement to any studies of immigrants, living and working conditions at the first part of the 20th century in New York City, or the history of organized labor. (An ALA Best Book for YAs.) KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2002, Random House, Dell Laurel-Leaf, 250p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Claire Rosser
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-The Nolan family's dreams of prosperity in a new country are shattered when baby Joseph fails the medical exam at Ellis Island and must be taken back to Cork by his father. Though Da promises a quick return, Ma is miserable. Frustrated by her dependence on the unwilling hospitality of prosperous relatives, she gladly accepts money from her brother-in-law for herself and her three daughters to return home. Having few opportunities in Ireland, 16-year-old Rose rebels and she and 12-year-old Maureen are allowed to remain in New York to seek work and schooling. Rose finds them a room with a kindly Jewish family, and the landlord's labor unionist daughter, Gussie, gets her a position at the Triangle Waist Company. The teen feels especially happy one morning, wearing a dress in a new color called "ashes of roses" in anticipation of a nickelodeon outing with friends after work. Within hours, her clothing choice takes on a macabre appropriateness as she, Gussie, and Maureen, who also works there, fight for their lives in a fire still recalled as one of the worst industrial disasters in U.S. history. Fast-paced, populated by distinctive characters, and anchored in Auch's convincing sense of time and place, this title is a good choice for readers who like historical fiction.-Starr E. Smith, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sixteen-year-old Margaret Rose Nolan spends two endless weeks in steerage, coming to New York with her family from Limerick in 1911. But as soon as they arrive, her Da has to go back with her baby brother, whose eye disease keeps him from getting into the country. Ma, Margaret Rose (who chooses Rose as her American name), and Maureen find Uncle Patrick and prepare to stay with him, but his German wife and daughters do not take to the "greenhorns" and soon Ma, too, decides to go back. Rose wants to stay, however, despite an unpleasant experience at a flower-making sweatshop, and Maureen stays with her. They find a room with a Russian Jew and his fiery daughter, Gussie, a union organizer who gets Rose a job at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory. It is the infamous fire at the factory that forms the climax of this first-person narrative, but readers will come to understand the background of the tragedy as well as something of the immigrant experience through Rose's eyes. The local color of Hester Street, the rise of a second generation of Irishmen like Rose's Uncle Patrick, and the many nationalities of the girls who worked at Triangle provide some interest, but the characters don't quite come to life. Those who stay with the story, though, will be mesmerized by its gripping finale and the loss of so many Roses. (extensive author's note) (Fiction. 11-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440238515
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 2/10/2004
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.37 (w) x 7.21 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Jane Auch is the author of numerous books for young readers. Ms. Auch lives in upstate New York.

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Read an Excerpt

1

There was no sense tryin' to sleep. This was the last night we'd be tossed by the waves in our narrow bunks. We were due to pull into New York Harbor at dawn, puttin' an end to the most unbearable two weeks of my life.

I shifted in my cot, tryin' to nudge my little sister, Bridget, over. She was barely four, and small for her age, but she took up more than her share of the narrow shelf we were supposed to call a bed. Ma had staked out a claim to four bunks in a row on the lower level when we first boarded the ship, but Bridget whimpered that she was lonely and moved into my bunk the first night. Next to us was Maureen, the middle sister, who made it clear from the beginnin' that she wasn't sharin' a bunk with anyone. I don't remember bein' that stubborn at twelve.

I heard poor little Joseph begin to whimper. He slept with Ma, although for the amount of sleepin' he did he might as well have kept his eyes wide open. The last few days especially, he was fussin' more time than he was quiet. I'd be glad to get off the ship so I wouldn't have to endure the comments of our fellow passengers, who were gettin' less patient with Joseph by the day. I loved my baby brother, but I wasn't so anxious to be around him myself.

I nudged Bridget over again, but the motion of the boat sent her rollin' right back to me. Finally, I gave up and fished for my shoes and shawl under my bunk. I decided to go up on the deck and see if any land was in sight. I tucked Bridget in with Maureen and climbed the ladder to the deck. A soft gray light filled the sky, and the wind made me pull my coat tighter around me. I wished we could have made this trip in the summer instead of February. We'd seen so little of sunshine, I'd almost forgotten what it looked like.

It had been two weeks ago that we set sail from Cork. As long as I could remember, Da had talked about comin' to America for a better life. So many people had left before us, it seemed the natural thing to do. As we pulled out of port, one man had shouted, "Will the last man out of Ireland please lock the door?" That brought a round of laughter from his friends, but we weren't more than an hour at sea before they were gulpin' pints of ale and singin' about wantin' to go back to dear old Ireland. Grandma Nolan had told Da that, no matter how much you wanted to leave, Ireland would tug on your heart until you returned. I thought she was just sayin' that to make him stay with her in Limerick, but maybe there was somethin' to it.

The deck was empty this last mornin' except for an old man who always seemed to be there, as if watchin' for land would bring it on sooner. He was leanin' on the rail, squintin' into the wind. "See that?" he asked.

I looked around to make sure he was talkin' to me. "See what?" I said.

"That dark shape over there? And another to the left of it? That's the Narrows. When we go through there, we'll be in New York Harbor."

"Ye mean it's land?" I asked. "I can't see anything at all."

As we moved closer, I could gradually make out what the man was talkin' about. There were other ships, too, but I couldn't tell if they were comin' or goin'. Other passengers were startin' to appear on deck now.

My heart beat fast as I crashed down the ladder to the steerage quarters. "Ma! Maureen! Get up! We can see New York. Come up on the deck."

Ma sat up and went into action. "Help me get shoes on the girls, Margaret Rose. And make sure all our things are packed into the two suitcases. Yer father has the trunk over in the men's quarters."

"But can't all this wait, Ma? I just want to see the city. I'll come right back to help ye."

All the talkin' had wakened other passengers. As they climbed out of their bunks, every inch of floor space filled with bodies. The first- and second-class passengers had their own compartments, but in steerage we were crammed like fish in a tin.

Maureen sat up and rubbed her eyes. "Where are we? Is this America?" She pulled on her shoes and headed for the ladder with laces floppin'.

"Stay right here," Ma said. "We need to gather our things. Maureen, take the large suitcase, and I'll carry the small one along with luggin' Joseph. Margaret Rose, you carry the feather bed and hang on to Bridget. There's goin' to be a great crush of people gettin' off this boat."

"But we're goin' to miss the Statue of Liberty," I protested. "I could've stayed on the deck, but I wanted ye all to see it."

"And see it we will," Ma said, "but we're not goin' up on the deck until I say we're ready. Now run a comb through yer hair, and yer sisters', too. I'll not have Uncle Patrick see ye lookin' like a bunch of ragamuffins."

Maureen and I were ready to jump out of our skins by the time Ma decided we were ready. We waited our turn in line. Maureen went up first; then Ma handed the large suitcase to her. It was my turn next. I was glad to be goin' up this ladder for the last time. All through the voyage, the boys would make a big fuss about lookin' up the girls' skirts as we climbed. They must have been pretty bored to get so worked up over a glimpse of bloomers.

Ma had the feather bed tied firmly in a tablecloth, but it was still bulky. I had struggled about halfway up the ladder when the ship began to tilt. I clung to the rung above me, but there was a ruckus behind Ma.

"Saints preserve us, we're sinkin'," a red-faced man shouted. He grabbed my shoulder and pulled me down from the ladder, then pushed ahead and climbed out to save himself. People were shovin' behind us.

"Go ahead, Margaret Rose," Ma said. "I'll be pushin' Bridget right up after ye."

"Are we sinkin'?" Bridget whined.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 27 )
Rating Distribution

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(18)

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(9)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2011

    A Must Read for All Ages

    My 13 yr. old granddaughter read this book in school as part of her class. She loves to read and to write. She asked me if I ever heard of this horrible fire. Yes I was taught about it as a young lady too. She told me how well the book was written and that it flowed. She couldn't put it down. I purchased the book and found that she was correct. It is well written and shows what immigrants went through from the time they left their country to come to a better life in America.

    It takes place in 1911 and was researched very well. A fictional story through the eyes of a very young Irish girl who grew up over night and survived what most did not. By reading it also we were able to discuss the problems back then with sweat shops, the lack of rights etc. We were able to sit down and talk about today's immigration problems, the sweat shops overseas and how our ancestors worked hard for a place in America and why we disagree with the situations that exist in today's world.

    I think every parent should read this book and with their children of age. It is a true read that promotes conversation on unions of the past and why they were formed etc. It promotes conversation over video games etc. This little book gave us both memories.

    Highly recommend.
    Thank you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2009

    Personal loss

    Rose immigrates from Ireland with her family, who all must return to Ireland except her younger sister. Thus Rose, the teenager, must make it on her own in an unknown land where relatives are not welcoming. A good fictional look at the poverty and struggles of the Irish in their early years in the U.S.,focusing on the deplorable conditions of workers in large, unsafe, sweatshops. The horrors of the 1911 fire are most real as seen through Rose's eyes. This book will hold your attention throughout.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Such a sad but amazing book!!

    I read this book when I was 11 and loved it. It's about this immigrant girl making a life for herself in the new world. Through ups and downs, including a fire at the factory she works at, she learns what she needs to do. Being a strong woman, she perserveres. <BR/><BR/>This book is mainly for children ages 12+, but is okay for 11 year olds. (I was freaked out at the end. If you don't like sad books, don't read this one.)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2008

    A reviewer

    I cried so much in this book. I've read it three times now and I love it every time. The issue is sad, but the story is wonderful, inspiring, and it captures your attention. You want to help Rose and you cry for her. I LOVE this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 22, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Well written look into this event

    I thought that the author put together a wonderful book, detailing not only the entrance at Ellis Island for immigrants, but also a (well-written I must say) account of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. I think this story is well put together, and I enjoyed it. It was pretty easy for me to get caught in this book and the action, although at parts I was about to cry, haha. I was really debating whether to give it four or five stars. I decided to give it four, just because I think that the characters could've been developed better (esp. the part of Gussie - she was hard to figure out for a while). Also, I do wish she would've gone on to tell a little more about Rose's (the main character's) life after the fire. I would definitely read this again, and it is a good book for (mainly) girls.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2008

    Ashes Shows Many Things...

    I read this book at age 11. Though it wasn't in any way inappropiate, I thought it was graphic in the sence of almost scariness. It seemed even more scary in the end. But in all, a very good historical fiction book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2007

    Amazing

    This was a great book. The scenery was so good, it felt as if you were actually in the fire with Rose and you could feel her fear of losing her sister. This book actually made me want to go learn about the Triangle fire, an event that I had never heard of. GREAT!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2007

    The Marvelous Ashes of Roses

    Ashes of Roses is a fantastic novel about a family who is moving to the United States from Ireland. They came as immigrants, but Joseph (the son) didn¿t make it into the U.S.A. The dad went back with Joseph while Margaret, her mom and sister stayed in America. They stayed at their uncle¿s but they got kicked out of his house because his step wife didn¿t like them because Margaret (Rose) worked at a sweat shop. Mom missed Joseph a lot, so she left America to go back to her son, Joseph. Margaret and her sister stayed in America, so they rented a room in a person¿s house. Rose quit her job because her boss made a pass on her. Rose and her sister found work at a fabric factory. One day, the place caught on fire and no one could get out! Will Margaret and her sister live from this horrible fire? Read the book to find out what happens!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2006

    Best Book I have ever Read

    This book had a slow start but the middle and end was absolutly amazing!!! The end was written with such feeling , I felt as if I had just expirienced the fire myself. I couldnt help but cry at the end. YOU MUST READ THIS!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2006

    Awsome

    I really enjoyed reading this novel. It gave me a great deal of background information for Social Studies. I learned about the Triangle Waist Factory- I never knew about the fire that occured there! I recomemded this book to anyone who is interested in History and anyone looking for an immigrant's life experiences!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2006

    Ashes of Roses

    Ashes of Roses By: Mary Jane Auch In Ashes of Roses, written by Mary Jane Auch, Rose Nolan is caught in many awful situations. In Ireland, some of Rose¿s friends were already married at age sixteen. She wanted to have a better life than taking care of many children and doing household chores. Rose was courageous to stand up to her mother, and to ask to stay in New York. She did this because she didn¿t want to end up like all the other girls in Ireland. They were all married and had kids by the time they were 20, but she wanted to do something better with her life. ¿It doesn¿t matter whether ye¿re a union shop or not. There are laws, y¿know. Laws that say ye can¿t take advantage of yer workers (Auch, 145).¿ Rose realized not every job was worth keeping. After the boss of her old job tried to kiss her, Rose knew that she could find a much worthier job. Rose¿s troubles started as soon as they came off the boat from Ireland. Once her family had got off the long boat ride to Ellis Island, they were told that they couldn¿t cross the border because her baby brother had trachoma. Rose¿s dad decided to go back to Ireland with Joseph, till he got better, so the family could be together again. Rose, her younger sister, and her mother were left to live with the unwelcoming family of Rose¿s uncle. When her mother couldn¿t stand America, and was ready to go back Rose and her sister took a stand to stay in New York. Since it was only 1911, Rose¿s mother thought it was unsafe to leave a sixteen year old and her younger sister all by themselves without a man to take care of them. Heartbroken, though, her mother gave in, leaving her two daughters in New York. Rose and Maureen overcame many obstacles while they were in New York. Rose was trying to get enough money to get herself and her sister food and she was also trying to keep her sister in school. After a devastating fire at Rose¿s work, she found out that many of her friends had died. ¿This time when I got a job, I¿d join the union and work in a union shop, where somebody world be lookin¿ out for me. Gussie had been right about that (Auch, 245).¿ Rose promises herself to save up for visits with her family in Ireland, knowing that her mother had persuaded Rose¿s father to stay there. Mary Jane Auch was very descriptive, which kept the story intriguing. ¿I ran to a pole holdin¿ fire buckets and found one that was still full. I dumped it over myself, pulled the back of my soggy dress up over my head and ran straight into the fire. It was like bein¿ in a bad dream (Auch, 210).¿ The main character was also well described so it gave a very good picture of her. It was interesting how many of the other characters came into the story only in the beginning. Mary Jane also did an excellent job on describing many horrible events but keeping most of the attention on the fire that happened.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2005

    Roses

    These two sister¿s come to America looking for more opportunities in their lives. When the two sister¿s make their way down to Ellis Island they meet this guy who is a complete stranger to them and the say mister do you know where this address is so they show his the paper then he gives them the direction to get where Uncle Patrick¿s house is. Next thing you know she gets stuck in this dead end factory job that is called Triangle Shirtwaist they really did not describe what they do there but to me it sound¿s like they make shirts any ways back to my paper so next thing you know a fire break¿s out in the factory and Rose¿s sister was there with her then they get split up but then Rose gets stuck in an elevator she started to yell and scream for help and after she was yelling for help a fireman say¿s hold on I will get you out of there so he gets her out of the elevator and makes their way down the stairs on there way down Rose see a lot of dead bodies falling she start¿s to cry put when she gets out of the factory she had just realize that her sister was not with her so she started to look around for her sister she could not find her so she went back to Uncle Patrick¿s house and she find¿s her sister with Uncle Patrick just sitting there. The reason why I like this book is because it shows that immigrant¿s have as much as hard a hard life as we do and it gives immigrant¿s more courage for them to come to the United State¿s. The reason why I did not like is because of the ending because what kind of book end¿s with just sitting there well besides the end of the book I would give a 4.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2005

    Reviewer, Middle School, summer reading project

    I read this book over the summer, as part of my reading project for school. At first i didnt want to read it because i dont like to read. BUT WOW!! I started reading and i couldnt stop - seriously! This is one of the most amazing books i have ever read. This book was written with GREAT detail and was very comprehendable. Mary Jane Auch- you are AMAZING!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2005

    Great Historical Fiction Novel

    Wow! This book was really a great story about an immigrant coming from Ireland and experiencing the troubles of coming to America. I had never heard anything about the Triangle Factory fire before and it was a really interesting topic. This book is great for historical fiction lovers like me!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2004

    omigod!

    This is a must read! If you didn't read this, you are missing out on a part of life! It's perfect for everyone. I would add one thing, which would make this the best book I've ever read, that there should be a love story. But it held my interest without it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2003

    Moving Inspiration

    I am fifteen years old and when I picked this book off the shelf at my local library I thought it was going to be another boring, nondramatic, stereotypical young adult book. But, when I read this it made me cry and moved me so much that when I went to New York City I went and saw the Asch Building and actually starting crying. I walked on the brick road that the girls had fallen to their death apon and it just is so powerful. I love this book, even though I don't own it, and I recommend anyone who believes in love, faith, pride, courage, freedom, and honesty will admire this book. And if you ever go to NYC you should go to this building, but read the book first.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2003

    On Her Own

    Margret Rose's family immigrates from Ireland to the United States.Her baby brother is not let into the States because of an eye problem.So her brother and father are deported back.Then after living with her uncle for a few weeks Rose's mother becomes homesick and tries to go back to Ireland.Rose and her sister decide to stay.So Rose is in a new country with no parents,little money and a younger sister to take care of.Will they survive?I really enjoyed this book because it's full of suprises that really keep you guessing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2002

    The Great One

    Before i read this book, i thought reading was boring and nothing was going to change my mind! But this book was outstanding! i LOVE TO READ NOW! I got half way through the book and couldn't stop reading! By the time i looked at my clock 3 hours went by and i only had 4 more pages to go! i finished this book in 2 days! and it was the best book i have ever read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2002

    the greatest book i ever read

    This is the greatest book! I was laughing, crying, and fuming with anger. It was so well written, I felt as if I were there. I've never read another book like it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2002

    Ashes of Roses

    Ashes of Roses is a work of historical fiction that tells of Margaret Rose, a newly-arrived 16 year-old Irish immigrant who desperately desires and struggles to 'become American'. Rose's journey begins in 1911 with her arrival at Ellis Island. Her first job, working in a sweat shop making paper flowers, marks her first step towards self-reliance, but she soon encounters trouble. The owner takes advantage of her innocence and of her need for money, and late one evening physically assaults her. Rose escapes without her pay and only winter coat. The daughter of the Jewish man she rents a tenement room from, Gussie, is a union worker that gives Rose the courage to go back to the sweatshop the next day, get her coat, and demand her pay. Gussie is then able to get Rose a job at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, which pays better. Rose is able to worry a little less and enjoy her youth. She makes friends at the factory, sees a nickelodeon for the first time, and reads her first dime novel. But the real-life tragedy of the factory fire painfully jars her back to the harsh reality of the immigrant's life. (Of the 146 people that die in the fire, many of them are young girls who either jump to their deaths or are trapped in the burning building because of locked doors.) Still, Rose finds within herself the strength to hope once again that she'd find America's streets paved with gold, and make a life for herself. '...I was a grown woman now, not somebody's little girl. The fire had changed me. Like a piece of iron in a blacksmith's forge, I had come out reshaped, stronger.' Ashes of Roses tackles tough issues of the period like child labor, women's rights, worker's rights, discrimination, racial diversity, and class distinction. But never does one feel like she is reading a history book. Rather, the reader comes to care deeply for Rose, struggling along with her, and wanting desperately for her to succeed. The reader, and Rose, learn much along the way. This book stands alone as a compelling story, as does the author's other highly-praised works of historical fiction, i.e. her pioneer trilogy, Journey to Nowhere, Frozen Summer, and The Road to Home. Ashes of Roses is also a boon to history teachers wanting the past to come alive for their students. Furthermore, the author details the research that went into the making of Rose's story in the Author's Note, so teachers, librarians, and parents alike can feel secure in the knowledge that the people, places, events, and lifestyles portrayed in the novel are historically accurate. This book deserves a place on every library's shelf.

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