by Sharon Gloger Friedman

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A Jewish Family’s Epic of Hope, Tragedy, and Survival

Easter Sunday, 1903 ushered in three days of government-sanctioned brutality on the Jews of Kishinev, Russia. In the aftermath of slaughter, rape, and destruction, Meyer and Sadie Raisky escape to New York City with their thirteen-year-old daughter, Miriam. Their home and business gone, reeling from devastating personal tragedy, the Raiskys cling to the promise of a better life in America. But upon arriving in New York City, Miriam and her parents quickly learn that promises are easily broken in the tenements of the Lower East Side. When circumstances force Miriam to abandon the schooling she loves to help support her family, she goes to work at the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, joining other immigrant girls who work long hours for low wages in shocking conditions. Against the backdrop of emerging workers’ rights and women’s rights, Miriam’s social conscience and young womanhood both blossom when she falls in love with a union organizer. Meticulously researched and rich with beautifully drawn characters that bring 20th-century New York City to life, Ashes is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, and a haunting elegy to the young women whose suffering inspired changes to the working conditions in the garment industry.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781478769477
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc.
Publication date: 10/20/2018
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 314
Sales rank: 349,916
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

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Ashes 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read - strong characters. They are a strong family who face hard times. Excellent historical fiction as it pulls in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.
BettyTaylor 10 months ago
This beautifully written novel of the horrendous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 is Friedman’s debut in historical fiction. I certainly hope she will write more books in this genre. The Raisky family endures one tragedy after another – the horrific pogroms in Russia in 1903 which resulted in the death of many Jews, leaving their home country to escape persecution in Russia, daily financial struggles as they settle into New York’s lower east side, and finally the fire. Yet in the midst of all this tragedy could be found love and hope. All the characters were wonderfully developed and came to life as I read about them. The story focuses on the Raisky family as they adapt to life in America. While the primary focus is on daughter Miriam, we also experience the heartbreaking and heartwarming moments of the entire family - father Meir, mother Sadie, Sadie’s sister Malka, and Malka’s children. I felt pride as Malka’s son Avrum, just a child, stood up to his abusive father. I ached for Miriam’s friends – sweet funny little Osna, happy loving Rivka, Angie and Ambra – as they grasped to hold on to their hopes and dreams. And at the end I was holding my breath, wondering which of them would survive the fire. I struggled with the fear each girl experienced as she fought bravely to escape the fire, and the terror and anguish of their loved ones as they learned who lived and who died. I also felt angry toward the people who allowed such deplorable work conditions to exist, people who were never held accountable for the loss of innocent lives. It must have been very difficult for Friedman to write this story as it is obvious she was emotionally committed to it. She described in vivid detail how New York was during this era and how difficult life was – limited employment, low wages, crowded filthy tenement houses. The pacing was excellent as the closer we got to the date of the fire, the shorter the time intervals of the chapters. Once I reached March 1911 I found myself dreading what was to come and hoping that for some reason the girls would not go to work on March 25, 1911. I highly recommend this book if you love historical fiction.
ReadersFavorite 11 months ago
Reviewed by Tiffany Ferrell for Readers' Favorite Ashes by Sharon Gloger Friedman tells the story of a young Jewish girl named Miriam who lives in Czarist Russia with her parents and older brother Eli. During this time in Russia, there was a lot of hostility towards the Jews for many reasons. One is that they blamed the Jews for the assassination of Alexander II. Miriam’s father Meyer is well aware of the anti-semitism because the riots that followed the murder of the Czar resulted in both of his parents being brutally murdered. The hostility and hatred brew to a boiling point once more when a boy a few towns away is found murdered. The Christian Russians blame the Jews for using the boy as a sacrifice. What started as looting soon becomes mobs seeking blood and revenge. The anti-semites destroyed many things, and when they finally descended upon Miriam’s home, her brother Eli is murdered. After the deaths of his son and best friend as well as Meyer murdering a man to protect his family, he felt the best place for them was America. To start a new life and to get away from prejudice but is it a new life? I really enjoyed Ashes. I always knew there was a dislike of the Jewish population in Russia but reading it made me see it through Miriam’s eyes and it really made an impression on me. I loved the characters and how they are portrayed. They are very realistic and many people’s great-grandparents could relate to the issues that they faced while coming to America. I also loved how much research Friedman did on the factories of that period and the horrible conditions that many women and children faced. Reading about Miriam’s daily life in the factory and the cruelty and injustice she witnessed and experienced herself hits the reader more than reading it in a history book. It’s not personal and there’s no connection. With Ashes, you develop a bond with the characters and their lives and their experiences hit you in a way a regular history book can’t.
CaroleL More than 1 year ago
The author, Sharon Gloger Friedman, certainly did her homework on this one! I was familiar with the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire before, but this book really gives you a true sense of the sweatshops. It provides the reader an inside look at what it was like for young women who were forced to work in horrible conditions to support their families in New York's tenements. This story is about an immigrant family running for their lives from the Russian pogroms and how the streets of the U.S. were not so paved in gold. Sharon Gloger Friedman did a beautiful job telling this story. I can't wait to see what she does next!