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
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
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.
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+)