Uprising: Three Young Women Caught in the Fire That Changed America

Uprising: Three Young Women Caught in the Fire That Changed America

4.4 70
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
     
 

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The fire at the Triangle Waist Company in New York City, which claimed the lives of 146 young immigrant workers, is one of the worst disasters since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and the disaster, which brought attention to the labor movement in America, is part of the curriculum in classrooms throughout the country.

Told from alternating points… See more details below

Overview

The fire at the Triangle Waist Company in New York City, which claimed the lives of 146 young immigrant workers, is one of the worst disasters since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and the disaster, which brought attention to the labor movement in America, is part of the curriculum in classrooms throughout the country.

Told from alternating points of view, this historical novel draws upon the experiences of three very different young women: Bella, who has just emigrated from Italy and doesn't speak a word of English; Yetta, a Russian immigrant and crusader for labor rights; and Jane, the daughter of a wealthy businessman. Bella and Yetta work together at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory under terrible conditions--their pay is docked for even the slightest mistake, the bosses turn the clocks back so closing time is delayed, and they are locked into the factory all day, only to be frisked before they leave at night to make sure they haven't stolen any shirtwaists. When the situation worsens, Yetta leads the factory's effort to strike, and she meets Jane on the picket line. Jane, who feels trapped by the limits of her own sheltered existence, joins a group of high-society women who have taken an interest in the strike as a way of supporting women's suffrage. Through a series of twists and turns, the three girls become fast friends--and all of them are in the Triangle Shirtwast Factory on March 25, 1911, the day of the fateful fire. In a novel that puts a human face on the tragedy, Margaret Peterson Haddix has created a sweeping, forceful tale that will have readers guessing until the last page who--if anyone--survives.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Although it begins in a didactic tone, this historical novel about New York City's Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and the catastrophic Factory fire hits its stride to offer a compelling message about labor, sacrifice and the price of freedom in America. Haddix (the Shadow Children series) follows three very different girls: naïve Bella from Italy, who becomes a strikebreaker; the feisty Yetta, a Jewish immigrant from Russia who spearheads the strikes; and the socially prominent Jane, raised to marry for status and prestige. The pace and interest pick up once the infamous 1910 strike begins and the girls' experiences collide. The author ably motivates the various characters, for example, Yetta repeatedly survives beatings and incarceration for her convictions; Bella joins the strike only after learning her family has died and her landlords have stolen her savings; and Jane follows college friends to the picket line but returns of her own accord. Several well-sketched supporting characters highlight the broader effect of the struggle, such as Jane's chauffeur, who cheers her participation. The portrayal of the fire, which killed 146 workers, and its legacy memorably drives home both the bravery of girls who stood up to the powerful factory owners and the highly personal cost of progress. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature
AGERANGE: Ages 14 up.

Uprising is an historical fiction novel that depicts the life of three young ladies and how the real life event of the 1909-10 shirtwaist strike affected them. Only one of the three girls will survive and live on as an example of how industry lives off the greed of a few and the sweat of many. Our sweet Bella lands in America with ideas of living a better life then she had in Italy where her family still resides. She must give and give to her selfish landlords, especially when her cousin disappears and leaves her alone in this strange and vicious country. Next we meet Letta, a Jewish girl who comes from Russia. She lives with her worldlier sister, Rahel. These two girls help to set the shirtwaist strike into motion, while our last character Jane knows nothing but privilege--until her world collides with Bella and Letta. These three characters change as this plot driven novel explodes into the harsh realities of being a single, unprotected female in a male dominant society, where life is never fair and being jobless happens daily. Why would three young girls think that they can change their day to day living--much less our history? They do believe that. I applaud Margaret Peterson Haddix for taking a significant piece of history and giving us an original and heartfelt book that kept me reading through the night. I had to know which girl survived the fire. The twists and turns did not stop until the last page. I also found the "Author's Note" fascinating. Reviewer: Julia Beiker

School Library Journal

Gr 6-8
This deftly crafted historical novel unfolds dramatically with an absorbing story and well-drawn characters who readily evoke empathy and compassion. Haddix has masterfully melded in-depth information about the history of immigration, the struggle for women's rights, the beginnings of the organized labor movement, and the horrific Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911 within a narrative that will simultaneously engross and educate its readers. The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Bella, an Italian immigrant teen; Yetta, a Russian Jewish immigrant; and Jane, the daughter of an upper-class American businessman. Yetta is opinionated and aware of how immigrants, especially women, are mistreated. She is outspoken and ready to work toward improving conditions. Bella is a new immigrant and easily taken advantage of. She only wants to earn money to send home so the rest of her family can join her in America. Though wealthy, Jane is influenced by college girls who are starting to work for women's rights. The three girls meet during the strike at the Triangle factory. Jane bravely leaves home when she learns that her father was involved in trying to break the strike. This absorbing and informative read is a wonderful companion to Mary Jane Auch's Ashes of Roses (Holt, 2002).
—Renee SteinbergCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Three young women from different backgrounds experience the New York City Triangle Shirtwaist strike and fire of 1911. The story is told in flashbacks, which recount the treatment of hands in sweatshops culminating in the deaths of so many. Two of the workers are Bella, a young immigrant from the poverty of Southern Italy whose family was starving, and Jewish Yetta, from Russia after a pogrom. The rich young protected Jane becomes involved with the other two when a friend mentions that college girls (Jane is not in college because her father does not believe in educating women) will be walking the strike line with the workers. Here she becomes acquainted with the sewing machine girls. Thus, the reader has three viewpoints of the times, conditions and events as they coalesce in a story told by an omniscient narrator. Because of its length, the book requires a reader who can stick with it. Author's note and list of works consulted give a fair summary of the Triangle fire and the condition of laborers, immigrants and life in the tenements. (Historical fiction. 12+)
From the Publisher
“Haddix is a masterful storyteller and succeeds in putting a human face on a historical tragedy. Recommended.”—Library Media Connection

“A compelling message about labor, sacrifice, and the price of freedom in America.”—Publishers Weekly

“Will keep readers turning the pages. An excellent author’s note provides additional historical information.”—Booklist

“This deftly crafted historical novel unfolds dramatically with an absorbing story and well-drawn characters who readily evoke empathy and compassion.”—School Library Journal

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442419568
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
01/18/2011
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
85,519
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
12 - 15 Years

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